New odorless durian may be the sweet smell of success

The large spikey Thai fruit, durian, has distinctive odor and flavor that some find irresistible, while others are not big fans. The overpowering smell of durian has caused it to be banned by hotels, airlines, public transportation and has served as a barrier to entry even for many adventurous fruit lovers.

As sometimes dubbed the King of Thai Fruits, durian may soon win more fans around the world, thanks to a northeastern farmer who has developed an odorless variety that is now being grown on 40 farms in the region.

Thailand’s Department of Intellectual Property recently awarded geographical indication (GI) certification to the province of Nakhon Ratchasima, also known as Korat, for its new strain of durian. GI certification is similar to a trademark, except that it identifies something as authentically from a particular place as opposed to being a product of a particular company.

Thailand is expected to harvest 720,000 tons of durian this year. Most will be consumed locally, but the Kingdom is also the world’s largest durian exporter, shipping about 10 percent of its production to countries across many regions around the world.

Thailand has about 75 percent of the global durian market and it earned over $2 billion in durian exports last year. To the surprise of many, last year’s durian export earnings even exceeded those of rice, which Thailand is known for globally, and rubber, for which the Kingdom is the world’s top exporter.

The farmers of Korat have succeeded in transforming the smell of durian to be more appealing with no sacrifice of its creamy texture and delectable taste. By all accounts, it is a new dawn for the durian.

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