With Thai durian selling fast to Chinese connoisseurs, questions have arisen over whether the phenomenon is just hype or signals a promising future for the king of fruits.

Aat Pisanwanich, director of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC), says Thai durian has bright prospects in the short term. But Durian Harvests worries that over the next 5-10 years, Thai premium fruits may encounter daunting challenges, particularlyin terms of consistent production quality, additional supply from other producing nations and heavy reliance on China and Hong Kong.

Durian Harvests says Thailand is estimated to produce 600,000 tonnes of durians this year. Higher demand and decent prices may lure Thai farmers to grow more durians, leading to excessive supply over the next decade.

“More importantly, durian is an Asean fruit for which every country can grow its own indigenous varieties, while all producing countries are focusing on the same market,” Mr Aat says. “This is quite risky risky for the future, and fiercer competition is definitely anticipated.”

In Thailand, there are over 234  durian varieties registered with the government, of which 60-80 are commercially cultivated. Of all the cultivated durian areas in Thailand, Monthong accounts for 41%, Chanee 33%, Kan Yau 5% and Kra Dum Thong 2%, while the rest are minor varieties.