Following only one season of exporting dragon fruit, also known as pitahaya, the U.S. has become Ecuador’s second-largest market.
Quito-based Agricola Pitacava of Quito has shipped 40 metric tons of the tropical fruit, also known as pitahaya, to the U.S. compared to last season.
Ecuador exported 68 metric tops to its leading market, Hong Kong.
Market access by U.S. authorities was granted in June 2017, followed by the first exports taking place in September.
Some observers note the U.S. market, which now has a lot of people from Asia living it, turns out to be better than expected. Asians are familiar with red dragon fruit, as well as yellow dragon fruit.
Agricola Pitacava reports its exports to the U.S. are a little over 18 percent of its total volume of 220 metric tons, which also include exports to the Netherlands, Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia.
Ecuador’s export volume to the U.S. in the first year is unprecedented. For example, it took 5 years for Hong Kong to become the company’s top export market after it opened in 2013. There is a lot of optimism regarding the U.S. market, not only because of its large population, but it has higher incomes. This is important because is seen as one of the most expensive fruits.
Pitahaya often costs around $8 per pound in the U.S., compared to HKD69 (U.S. $8.80) in Hong Kong. In Europe the pitahayas are sold by per piece at €8 – 10 (US$9 – 11.50).
Consumer preferences vary widely between the west and the east regarding dragon fruit, or pitahaya. For example, in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia, there is a preference for bigger fruit, of 300g and above. However in the U.S. consumers do not for pitahaya sizes and are purchasing smaller sizes from 180g to the big fruit that could be 450g.