The Tough Contenders: Thai Durian vs Malaysian Durian

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According to a global industry report by Grand View Research, the global durian market is expected to reach US$28.62 billion by 2025, with a compound growth rate of 7.2% annually. As indicated by the report, Thailand is the largest durian exporter in 2020. Tridge Intelligence further notes that, 75.31% of global exports (this corresponds to a US$2.08 billion export value). In comparison, Malaysia has a global market share of about 0.64% in 2020, with the country earning US$17.70 million from selling the King of Fruits.

In Malaysia, the durians’ variations are governed by the Department of Agriculture, and fall under the 2004 New Plant Varieties Act. In addition, a Malaysian durian standard and certification process was launched by the Chinese Academy of Inspection and Quarantine in 2021 – known as the Malaysian Durian Certification Implementation Rules or MDCI in short, it aims to protect the interests of several groups of people. These include consumers, operators, and durian farmers. MDCI was implemented to combat the dishonest merchants’ unscrupulous acts of mixing up the origins and varieties of durians to maximise profit.

Furthermore, it would foster a safe and trustworthy environment for consumption as the introduction of certificates of authenticity ensures the quality of the durians. Just like Malaysia, Thailand has its own durian standards, learn more about Thailand’s Agricultural Standard here.

What are Malaysia’s Advantages in the Global Durian Market? 

All things considered, as the world’s top two durian producers, which nation has produced the most popular durian? We often hear about the age-old debate of Thai durians vs Malaysian durians, but what sets these two nations’ durians apart? 

  Malaysia Durian Thai Durian

Popular Durian Cultivars Produced

Musang King (Mao Shan Wang)

Code: D197

Description: Greyish green shell with broad and blunt spikes

Taste: Custard-like golden thick flesh with bitter-sweet taste

Texture: Custardy and soft
Monthong (Golden Pillow)

Code: D159

Description: Oval, tapered shape with densely packed triangular spikes

Taste: Mild aroma, rich and sweet

Texture: Firm and crunchy

Harvest Method

Dropped from the tree. Durians are collected when they fall from the branches onto the net attached to the trees to catch the fallen fruits. Direct Harvesting. Durians are cut directly from the tree when they are about to ripen. They are then being artificially ripened.

Maturity at Harvest

Harvested at 100% full maturity Harvested at 75-85% maturity

Average Cost

(Data source: Statistica)

RM21.35 per kilogramme 100THB per kilogramme

Production Volume

400,000 tonnes 900,000 to 950,000 tonnes

Peak Production Season

The annual durian season in Malaysia occurs in different phases (based on the state).

Penang: starts in May

Johor: June and July

Perak & Pahang: In early June or August

900,000 to 950,000 tonnes

Global Exporter

Exports 4% of world durian supply Exports 95% of world durian supply

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What Makes the Malaysian Durian So Popular?

Now just what makes Malaysia’s Musang King such an appealing cultivar in the durian industry?

One key point as mentioned earlier is how they are harvested. Using the Abscission method, it is almost certain that the durians are all ripe on arrival. This explains why Malaysian durians have that distinct richness in taste.

The science behind this is due to the natural fermentation process of the durian’s flesh that occurs naturally within the husk. This starts as soon as the durian falls from the tree. Just like other fermented food items, this process affects the durian’s taste, with longer fermentation leading to stronger flavours.

As for Thai durians, as they are harvested directly from the trees, the fermentation time will be shorter, hence Monthong’s milder and sweeter taste.

In addition, as a fruit, durians are considered exotic and rare in the global market (southeast asia excluded). This is because durians can only be cultivated in countries with a specific climate, require consuming and labour-intensive techniques to nurture them, and are not easy to export as they have a short shelf life, as well as face many transport restrictions and thus require special logistic arrangements.

All of the above mentioned factors coupled with periodic inconsistency and an interruption in production due to unforeseen circumstances such as extreme rainfall, fluctuating temperatures, or droughts make Malaysian durians a premium choice in the local and regional markets.

The Global Appeal of Malaysian Durian

There has also been a rise in demand for durians globally. Malaysia is the second-largest exporter in the Durian industry. Check out this article to learn more about the durian industry in Malaysia.

Challenges and constraints are inevitable not only due to the economic factors, but exporting foodstuff commercially requires adequate resources and knowledge of countries regulations, customs requirements, licenses, etc. Despite these challenges, Malaysia remains one of the most prominent players in the durian industry and the country’s producers are aided by quality logistics services to ship their durians.

To ensure smooth shipping of your durians from Malaysia, DHL Express has just the solution for Malaysian durian exporters. Through the Durian Express initiative, business owners can now ship their durians overseas in less than 24 hours.