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Durian and the Internet of Things

The King of Fruits

Durians are native to South East Asia and widely known as the "King of Fruits". Alfred Russel Wallace, a 19th century British naturalist described durian flesh as ‘a rich custard highly flavored with almonds’.

For the uninitiated, this is a fruit which you either love or hate, ones' relationship with the durian would sit on either side of the spectrum and rarely in between.

From South East Asia to China

Durians are grown commercially for export in South East Asia. In Thailand, durians account for 41% of the Thai fruit exports to China and the value of exports have increased 285% from 2007 to 2014 levels of 361 Million USD. In comparison, Malaysia only received approval to export durians to China in 2011. By 2014, frozen durian exports to China stood at 5 Million USD. Philippines is a relatively smaller producer of its durians exporting approximately 1.2 Million USD of Durians in 2015.

To put things into perspective, the cost of Malaysia's "Musang King", one of the tastiest variants of durian costs 7USD/KG in Malaysia, however its frozen pulp retails for a whopping 77USD/KG in China, almost 11 times the price.

China's Food Safety Concerns

China has been dogged by multiple food scandals in recent years and its citizens have concerns relating to all stages of food production, from processing back to the growing of vegetables and breeding of livestock. One of the most shocking and high profile cases was in 2008, when melamine-tainted milk powder led to the deaths of six infants and hundreds more being admitted to hospital. This has led the middle class to turn to organics and are willing to pay a premium for good quality safe food.

On October 1 2015, China's new food security law took effect, emphasizing the importance of detection, traceability and anti-counterfeiting technologies and pushing to establish a food quality traceability system. This has created opportunities for companies who can built a system to trace the entire process of food and agricultural products going from field to table.

Durian and the Internet of Things

At the 6th Edition of Asia IoT Business Platform in Malaysia,  I found out that there was an ongoing pilot project to put sensors beneath durian trees. The reason for doing so, was so that the farmers would know in real time, that freshly ripe fruit have fallen off the tree. It is said that durians that ripen and fall off the tree naturally have the best taste as compared to durians who are harvested. The fruits are then sent for flash freezing, to retain its flavor before being prepared for export for China.

In preparation for export, the durian's are tagged on MiTrace. The MiTrace system would enable Chinese consumers to trace the origin of the durian, which they regard as a premium product.

Every safety label on the exported frozen durian boxes consist of a unique code, consumers can check the purity and the originality of the product by using a QR code. This gives assurance to the Chinese consumer.

On the other hand, data is also collected from the Chinese consumer and analysed. The analysis provides an insight into the durian demand patterns of the Chinese consumers which will improve decision making in the export of durians.

Conclusion

IoT has enabled enterprises to gain access to more real-time data from “things” they never had access to. Armed with the data, enterprises would be in a better position to manage risks and create new revenue generating opportunities.

Imagine your business having access to data that you never had before, what would be the opportunities?

Join us in the discussion on IoT developments in Manila and Bangkok this May and hear what the local IoT stakeholders have to say about market trends and outlook in Southeast Asia.

by: Ernest Ho


By Ernest Ho | May 1st, 2017

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