Those who hate the strong, distinctive smell of the durian fruit can now rejoice due to Thailand’s newest non-stinky variety.
The Pak Chong-Khao Yai cultivar was introduced last week at the Pak Chong-Khao Yai GI Durian Festival hosted by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, where beauty queens and durian connoisseurs alike tried the new variant.
The fruit is reportedly an offshoot of the popular Mon Thong strain grown in northeastern Nakhon Ratchasima province.
It was approved last year with the geographical indication (GI) label by the Department of Intellectual Property, which certifies that a product originates from a particular geographical location and possesses a quality reputable to the area.
At the festival, attendees were charged 399 baht
(approximately $10.90) for an all-you-can-eat fruit buffet for 49 minutes. While apples, avocados and other locally grown produce were available, the main attraction was undoubtedly the durian.
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Thailand is the world’s leading durian exporter, having made 187 billion baht (approximately $5 billion) from sales of the fruit in the last year.
Demand for the fruit in China has grown exponentially, quadrupling to $2.3 billion from 2017 to 2020 and overtaking cherries as the most popular fruit import.
In 2017, Thai researcher Songpol Somsri created the Chantaburi No. 1
, a strain of non-pungent durian that is described as smelling nutty and sweet.
Durian’s aggressive odor, which has been likened to that of gas leaks and used socks mixed with onions, is off-putting to many, with the fruit banned in most hotels, airlines and public transport in Asian cities.
In 2017, a Chinese woman was forced to wolf down her two durians after railway officials stopped her from boarding a train due to the fruit’s smell.
In 2019, a durian left near an air vent at an Australian university caused students and staff to evacuate from the campus and call rescue teams to locate the source of the odor. The fruit was eventually escorted off the grounds in a sealed bag.