In 2017, the durian fruit market was valued at US$16.53 billion with major producers being Thailand and Malaysia, according to latest report by Technavio. By region, Asia Pacific commands the largest market share at 81% or US$13.42 billion. The durian market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 8.12% from 2023 to 2027, making it one of the fastest growing fruit category in this region. This year alone, the durian market is forecast to grow at 7.43%.
Just a decade ago, durians were mainly sold in loosely packed plastic wrappers or in unpackaged format by the weight in terms of kilogram or by the number of fruits. Currently, durian is also sold in frozen format, vacuum sealed, and exported to countries as far as China, Taiwan and Singapore.
Durian, regarded as the king of fruits in this region, could possibly have the strongest smell for any fruit. To many people, the smell is unpleasant but to durian lovers, the smell is the ‘signature’ of the durian quality. Musang King variant, one of the most expensive durian variety in the world, is recognised by its strong odour and is sold as high as US$50 per kg.
Currently, major durian sellers have adopted aggressive marketing strategies like advertisements in both online/offline as well as through promotional activities to reach out to consumers. Several vendors have even promoted the health benefits of consuming durian from its high anti-oxidant contents to helping mitigate heart disease, and strengthening bones and joints.
Both durian suppliers and distributors are now studying various formats to expand their market while at the same time extend the shelf life of this king of fruit. Durian can also be processed into purees for use in bakery, snacks or confectionery; or freeze dried into snacks, or fermented into traditional condiment used in many regional dishes. Scientific studies have confirmed the health benefits of fermented durian which contain high probiotic and antioxidant properties. A wealth of opportunities are still waiting on the sideline for manufacturers to capitalise on the growing use and benefits of durian for the East Asian market.
The growth potential and further industrial development and processing of durian is enormous, especially within this region where consumers have already developed a strong liking for this seasonal fruit.
Currently, production of durian is rather fragmented with many small players while large scale farming and processing of durian is still in the infancy stage.