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Thailand Introduces New “Odourless” Durian Fruit

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Thailand Creates New "Non-Smelly" Durian

Durian from Thailand is known for its custard texture and pungent smell, which is reviled and celebrated worldwide.

Those who cannot tolerate the stinging aroma of Durian can rejoice as an “odourless” variety of the thorny fruit was introduced in Thailand last week.

A variety of the popular Mon Thong strain, grown in northeastern Thailand’s Nakhon Ratchasima province, has been certified as a geographical indication (GI).

According to growers, the offshoot, which was showcased at a durian festival in Pak Chong district, is sweet, dry, and has soft flesh – but most importantly, it is odourless.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand co-hosted the event, which featured Thai beauty queens enjoying the new odourless taste of durian.

Durian Given GI Label

The Department of Intellectual Property approved Pak Chong-Khao Yai as a GI product last year.

GI labels identify products originating from a specific region and possessing characteristics or qualities characteristic of that region. For example, Scotch whisky or certain regional cheeses.

A boom in Chinese demand helped Thailand earn about 187 billion baht (S$7.1 billion) last year as the world’s leading durian exporter.

In 2020, China’s imports of fresh durians quadrupled from 2017 to US$2.3 billion, surpassing cherries as the number one fruit import by value, according to United Nations data.

Aside from being popular in Southeast Asia and China, Thailand’s spiky fruit has also been controversial.

An Indonesian flight was grounded in 2018 after travellers complained about the fruit in the cargo hold.

Following complaints that the smell in the cabin made flying unbearable, passengers disembarked the Sriwijaya Air flight bound for Jakarta from Bengkulu on Sumatra Island.

Before taking off, the aircrew unloaded the fruit, which smelled like rotten onions, turpentine, and dirty gym socks.

Students and staff were evacuated from the University of Canberra library in 2019 after rescue teams responded to reports of “a strong smell of gas” inside.

It was later revealed that the durian’s odour was caused by an air vent near the facility’s second level, which was sealed afterwards.

In some Asian cities, the smelly fruit is banned from public transportation and hotel rooms.