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    Jun 10, 2016

    Durian lovers shy away from higher prices, say sellers

    DURIAN lovers have been keeping away from their favourite fruit after recent reports of an expected hike in prices, said some durian vendors.

    It was reported that weather woes have delayed the king of fruits' peak season, which is usually from June to July.

    As a result, customers would have to pay more for durians of lower quality.

    The owner of Kong Lee Hup Kee Trading, Chia Boon Huat, 62, who has been in the business for more than 40 years, noticed a drop in sales after the reports.

    He said: "Some customers were under the impression that prices were too steep. And unless they are my regulars, they won't call me to check."

    Angeline Chong, 45, a teacher, admitted that she had "cut down on my durian dates" from four times a week to just once a week. "As much as I love to eat durians, I felt the pinch," she said.

    At one point, 1kg of the premium Mao Shan Wang cost $22 to $24, compared to $18 last year.

    But out of five popular durian vendors approached, three dismissed the price hikes.

    Mr Chia said he had started selling this season's crop early last month at $24 for 1kg until last week, when the price dropped to $22.

    "That was the first round, and naturally, it can be a little higher," he explained.

    By Monday, prices had gone down to $16 for 1kg of Mao Shan Wang and Mr Chia expects it to drop to $13 during the peak season in July and August.

    Linda Ang, 50, who works at Combat Durian, is also confident that prices will fall.

    She said: "We predict that it will drop to about $14 or $15 for 1kg of Mao Shan Wang."

    Combat Durian currently sells Mao Shan Wang at $16 to $18 for 1kg.

    But it will still be a longer wait for customers, as this year's peak season will be a month later than usual due to the bad weather in Malaysia, where the fruit is usually grown.

    The first and second harvests of Mao Shan Wang, which come primarily from Pahang, Malaysia, were also not as bountiful as in previous years.

    Mr Chia admitted that this year's quality of durians is not as good. "It is not as fragrant and the flesh is not as creamy."

    The good news is that durian lovers will have two months, instead of the usual one month, to feast on varied crops.

    "In July, people can expect bittersweet Mao Shan Wang, while we will get the bitter ones in August," said Mr Chia.

    "The quality of the next batch of durians will definitely be better than last month, even though it won't be as good as those in the past years."