Monday, 17 August 2015

Marketing lessons from Durian trade

Ahh.. durian… the lovely King of Fruits, according to South East Asians. Here in Singapore, durians are the rage. Mostly imported from neighbouring Malaysia, it has become a cultural activity to eat and buy a durian anywhere from US$5 to as expensive as US$30. This year, there was a bumper harvest and coupled with the Ramadan season in Malaysia, many durians came travelling to Singapore, in hope of getting eaten by food connoisseurs.

With so many hybrids of durians, to the many famed places in Singapore selling them, it has gone from a craze to just insane as to how locals can wait in line for their prized fruit. So why mention the whole issue of durian and how do we learn from the durian trade and how it has been abused of late?

One night, I had a craving for durian and decided to line up with the wife at a famed durian stall. Set up in an isolated carpark, the whole place was swamped with cars galore as durian lovers all came to have their supper fill of the fruit. ‘Terrible’ and ‘unfair’ were the thoughts as we waited patiently in line to buy. Despite being sixth in line, the durian seller took over 75 minutes to serve me. While waiting, people walked past us and engaged a conversation with the seller. And before I knew it, the seller began serving these people. When I asked later on why they were served first, he just smiled and said they are his regulars who have already called and reserved their durians. Reserve my foot.

5 ways to spot a Mao Shan Wang
To help you not get ripped off:

The husk of the Mao Shan Wang durian is dusky green-brown bordering on yellow.

The Mao Shan Wang durian (on the left below) is clear of thorns around the stem.

The seeds of the Mao Shan Wang are small and flat and the flesh of the fruit falls off the seeds easily unlike normal durians that can be rich, creamy and sticky.

The thorns of the Mao Shan Wang are like small pyramids.

There is a characteristic brownish 5-arm “starfish” at the base of the Mao Shan Wang.

Malaysian Durians
Types of Malaysian durians:
  • Mao Shan Wang (Cat Mountain King) aka Butter durian, Rajah Kunyit, or D666. Bitter sweet taste, sticky and creamy texture. Seeds are small and shriveled.
  • Sultan Durian or the D24. Very creamy and bitter. From Johor, Pahang and Cameron Highlands.
  • XO - Small seeds, bitter and extremely soft, fleshly meat with an almost cognac taste, hence the name. From Johor, Genting Highlands and Cameron Highlands.
  • Golden Phoenix aka Jin Feng. Bitter with a more runny or watery texture and strong pungent smell. From Pahang and Johor.
  • Red Prawn aka Hong Xia or Ang Hay. Orangey-red flesh, sticky and sweet aftertaste. From Pahang and Johor.
  • Green Bamboo aka Qing Zhu. Pale yellow with a slightest greenish tinge. Sweet with somewhat fibrous flesh. From Johor.
  • Black Pearl aka Hei Zhen Zhu. Very pale yellow with grey undertones. Slightly bitter, smooth and creamy with small seeds. From Johor.
  • D1. Pale yellow flesh, small seeds, and milky taste. From Johor.
  • D2. The fruit is long and irregular in shape. Hard to open. Meat is slightly pink and tastes a little bitter.
  • D13. Color of the flesh is a deep burnt orange. Sweet and mild in taste. Large seeds. Durian light. Good for durian virgins. From Johor and Segamat.
  • D101. Orange flesh, sweet and creamy. From Pahang and Johor.
  • D600 Slightly bitter taste yet creamy and sweet. Texture is rough, its mouth-watering thick and yellowish gold flesh. This durian is in a medium-sized yellowish green skin fruit
Three durian myths:
  • Eating durians with alcohol can kill you.
  • Washing your hands by first filling the husk with water will remove the odor.
  • “Ang mohs” can never stand the smell of durians.