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By Lizawati Bahanan
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 15 -- Kedai Asia, which successfully opened its maiden grocery shop in Jeddah many years ago, has achieved a new milestone by becoming the first exporter of Malaysian durians of the D24 variety to Saudi Arabia.
Using the frozen technique, its Kuala Lumpur headquarters recently shipped its first batch of durian fruits worth RM200,000 from Port Klang.
Husam Waksa Sdn Bhd director Engku Isa Al-Husam, who is a co-founder of Kedai Asia in Saudi Arabia, said the shipment, made on Nov 9, was scheduled to arrive in the third week of this month.
“On arrival, the durians will be distributed to our online customers throughout Saudi Arabia while a portion will be distributed to a chain of oriental shops as well as Malaysians in Riyadh through Kerjasama MY-Riyadh, an association of Malaysians residing in the capital city,” he told Bernama.
He said the move to export durians to Saudi Arabia was originally aimed at satisfying the craving for durians among Malaysians living there as they could not return to their native land due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Therefore, a special programme called COVID-19 Stock Initiative was launched online at the Kedai Asia website, www.kedai.asia, in September.
“We were excited to receive pre-orders from not only Malaysian expatriates but also people of other nationalities, including the Japanese, Filipinos, Indonesians, Pakistanis and, most interestingly, even the Arabs," he said.
Moving forward, Engku Isa said Kedai Asia planned to export durians four times a year, or once every quarter, to Saudi Arabia and also hoped to introduce more tropical fruits as well as other agricultural products from Malaysia.
“All these products will be sold at the new Kedai Asia mini-market which is expected to be opened in Jeddah, in January 2021 (replacing the previous shop and four times larger). The 4,000-sq-ft outlet will be located at Jeddah’s main metropolitan area along Tariq Madinah,” he said.
Apart from Malaysia, he said, Saudi Arabia also imported durian fruits from Thailand, which could be found mainly at the country’s major supermarkets.
“That is the challenge and the competition that we have to face, especially in terms of pricing. The durians that come from Thailand are cheaper; hence we make sure that the durians we deliver to Saudi Arabia meet certain set quality standards,” he said.
The idea for Kedai Asia was mooted in 2015 jointly with Mohammad Qarah from Madinah, with the first Kedai Asia being opened in the Aziziyah neighbourhood in Jeddah in January 2017.
In April 2019, Kedai Asia Corner was set up at Abraj Al-Bait, where the Makkah Royal Clock Tower is located, in collaboration with Hyper Abraj, selling Malaysia food products such as chilli sauce, Jalen soya sauce, and sambal.
Engku Isa said Kedai Asia had exported more than 1,000 types of halal food products from Malaysia and helped over 300 Bumiputera small and medium industries by marketing their products in Saudi Arabia.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, Kedai Asia has begun operating online via e-shop www.kedai.asia, and sales have surpassed a quarter million riyals since the launch in June. We will also launch a mobile app via Kedai Asia Apps in December," he added.
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