Farmers have raised their durian prices by more than 50% over the last month expecting a surge in demand, but traders are concerned they might lose money buying at the high rates.
The fruit now costs around VND100,000 ($4.21) per kilogram thanks to the hype.
In Central Highlands Dak Lak Province, farmers are selling their durian for VND75,000-100,000 per kilogram, up 54% from early July, and double the figure year-on-year.
Duyen, a farmer there, said traders are willing to pay VND100,000 per kilogram but she is not selling as she expects prices to rise even further.
“We have around a hectare of durian that can yield 18 tons this year.”
Thu Thao, both a farmer and a trader, said that the number of trades has surged several times year-on-year.
Many people who used to be real estate brokers are now switching to trading durian amid a frozen property market, she said.
Thao is worried that that she might not be able to buy enough to sell to her buyers.
“I have secured a deal to sell 200 containers to Chinese buyers, which is the equivalent of 3,000 tons. But farmers are selling at higher rates than I expected, so I have not had enough to export.”
Exporter Chanh Thu, the first company to export fresh durian officially to China, is not buying large amounts as prices are high above VND80,000, said CEO Ngo Tuong Vy.
At prices of VND65,000 farmers are sure to have high profit margin. But in recent weeks they have canceled contracts with dealers to raise prices, which in turn has her company struggling to fulfill export orders.
“We expect authorities to intervene to stabilize prices. Strong fluctuations will not ensure stability in the fruit exports industry.”
CEO of fruit exporter Vina T&T, Nguyen Dinh Tung, said that low yields at the beginning of the season have pushed up prices.
Central Highlands durian is high quality and therefore farmers want to sell it for high prices, he added.
Vu Duc Cong, deputy director of the Dak Lak Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that farmers need to lock their prices as soon as possible to secure long-term partnerships.
Otherwise prices might plunge next year, and farmers will the victims, he added.
If prices are not agreed on between farmers and traders now, both parties will lose, he said.
Dak Lak has over 20,000 hectares of durian farming area and is expected to produce up to 230,000 tons of the fruit this year, up 22% year-on-year.
Vietnam exported $1.1 billion of durian in the first seven months, the highest value ever recorded. China was its biggest buyer.