|By pinoyfarmer | March 17, 2010|
“IT smells like hell, but tastes like heaven.”
That’s one way the durian fruit has been curiously described by some. But think about it: Does hell have any smell? And for that matter, does heaven have any taste?
For first-timers, the stink usually overpowers the fruit’s heavenly taste, making it difficult for ordinary gastronomists to ingest.
The durian’s smell has been a major setback in marketing the fruit among Luzon and Visayas consumers. But those who have been to Davao and tasted the fruit have overcome the stink, they now love to eat the fruit and look forward to another delightful durian-eating experience.
There is an art to eating durian. It entails gradually tasting the fruit, getting used to the smell and, eventually, becoming fond of it.
“First-timers are advised to begin eating durian in processed form and to eat the fresh fruit in stages,” said Ceasar Falcatan of Dalisay Sweets International, one of the country’s leading fruit processors.
Processed durian products include ice cream, shake, pastille, candies, jam and pastries.
“It is only after getting used to the fruit’s distinct aroma that consumers will begin to appreciate durian’s delectable taste,” Falcatan said.
Another way of introducing durian to would-be consumers is through varieties with mild aroma, such as Puyat, Duyaya and Chanee.
Durian growers also want to correct the negative notion that durian can cause hypertension and diabetes.
The fruit has high nutritional value. It is rich in potassium, vitamin A, phosphorous and magnesium, which are essential nutrients needed by the human body.
Others regard durian as a “hot fruit” because of its so-called aphrodisiac effect.
Although durian is gradually gaining popularity among consumers in other parts of the country, the Filipino’s annual average consumption of durian is only 200 to 300 grams, much lower than our Thai counterparts, who consume 15 kilos per year, and Malaysians, who eat 8 to 10 kilos.
One way of increasing durian’s domestic consumption is through expanding its markets outside Mindanao. Tapping other markets will also help avoid a supply glut and help farmers earn more.
Former agriculture secretary Arthur Yap, in a consultation with the local fruit industry, said there is a need to open up new markets for Davao fruits, particularly durian, as an oversupply of the fruit will result in unhealthy competition among local producers and traders.
“If you cannot sell your durian here [in Mindanao], you can always tap the buyers in major cities, as they have the purchasing power to buy high-value fruits,” Yap said.
A study, titled “Consumer Preference for New Markets of Durian,” revealed that there are potential and promising markets in Luzon and the Visayas, particularly urban centers in Metro Manila and Cebu.
Conducted by researchers Melani Provido and Jessel Cardines, both of the Department of Agriculture in the Davao region, and Sylvia Concepcion of the University of the Philippines in Mindanao, the study aimed to look at the durian commodity value chain and how to meet the discriminating taste of potential durian consumers.
The study reported that almost half of the consumers interviewed tasted durian first in fresh form when they were visiting Mindanao, particularly Davao City.
Important factors being considered by consumers in buying durian are the taste, price and firmness of the pulp. Most of the consumers also expressed their willingness to pay P5 to P10 more for a durian fruit just to be assured of its quality.
However, producers are not willing to spend more to provide consumers with what they perceive as important factors, citing the high cost of basic farm inputs as a main reason for their inability to do so.
Researchers said there are six levels in the durian marketing chain: producer, trader, transporter, processor, institutional buyer and end-user or consumer. Although producers can also function as traders and transporters, most of them are content to sell their produce to traders.
Another interesting finding of the study was the high demand of durian during Ramadan, or the fasting month among Muslims consumers. Eating the fruit early in the morning enables them to endure whole-day fasting owing to its high-nutrition content.
“If durian producers would like to earn more, they must go beyond production. They have to exert effort to create their own market outlet to maximize their profit. Farm-gate prices usually range from as low as P12 to 15 per kilo during peak season. Farmers can actually sell their produce directly to consumers and enjoy a much higher price of at least P30 a kilo,” said Larry Miculob, a noted durian grower and officer of the durian industry council in the Davao region.
Since the study revealed that most consumers in Luzon and the Visayas are not aware of the various durian varieties, Miculob said producers and traders must be honest and aim for total customer satisfaction.
“You have to give them the right variety. If they want durian with a sweet, creamy and no fancy taste, give them Puyat and Arancillo,” he said.
Aside from consistency in quality and supply, one of the interesting recommendations of the study is for Davaoeños to help expand the market for durian.
“Davaoeños can take part in promoting durian by enticing a visitor, whether family members, relatives or friends from other parts of the country, to taste durian whenever an opportunity arises. This is the practical way for consumers outside Mindanao to eventually be fond of the fruit,” the researchers said.
Durian is a fruit well-loved by Davaoeños. But for the industry to sustain its growth, the rest of their countrymen must realize that one doesn’t have to be a Davaoeño to love durian.
??Noel T. Provido of Agri-Commodities at the BusinessMirror.com.ph
through Rarefruit Society of the Philippines (RFSP)