Chinese consumers will be soon be able to enjoy the polarising taste and smell of Malaysia’s Musang King durians in Freshippo – an Alibaba-owned restaurant and supermarket chain run by robots, China’s state news agency Xinhua reported on Tuesday (June 4).
The pungent fruit will also be sold on Tmall, an e-commerce site that offers consumers products at wholesale prices.
The Chinese tech giant announced the news shortly after the country’s customs authority approved the import of whole frozen durians into the country. Previously, only pulp, paste and processed products were allowed to be imported.
Experts consider the Musang King (also called the “butter durian“) a premium variety thanks to its bittersweet taste and sticky, creamy texture.
Demand for the coveted fruit is high in China, and durian-flavoured products have risen in popularity in recent years. Business Insider previously reported the CEO of Malaysian brand Tealive as saying that the brand’s durian-flavoured drinks sold particularly well in China.
No details are available yet as to when the durians will be available online, their price, or the quantity of fruit the company plans to import.
Malaysia’s deputy Agriculture minister Sim Tze Tzin said in a Facebook post on May 30 that the durian import partnership between Malaysia and China is expected to grow exports “exponentially”.
Many local orchards are already trying to increase production in anticipation, he added.
Sim said that Malaysia currently exports 17,000 tonnes of durians to Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, Australia, the United States, and China – but this figure is just 5.8 per cent of its total durian production.
Meanwhile, Chinese imports of durian stand at 300,000 tonnes annually, the majority of which comes from Thailand, he added.