Posts Tagged “Dragon fruit”
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.
Among specialty produce items gaining in popularity with U.S. consumers are Asian vegetables and tropical items.
“What is interesting about the specialty category is the crossover between the products and which category they fall into,” said Alex Jackson Berkley, assistant sales manager for Frieda’s, based in Los Alamitos, CA, who recently appeared in a feature in the trade publication The Packer.
“Many fruit items that are popular in the Asian culture are also common in the Latin culture, like dragon fruit (photograph), lychee, rambutan, jackfruit and mangosteen.
“The Asian vegetable category has taken off as many people are becoming more familiar with the items through Asian restaurants,” Jackson Berkley said in The Packer.
“Retailers are looking to compete with the big Asian retailers by bringing in a variety of Asian items at a low retail price. This is going beyond bok choy and napa cabbage. Items like bittermelon, Chinese okra, gai lan and Chinese long beans are more common in the retail (setting).”
World Variety Produce of Los Angeles, which markets under the Melissa’s brand, has seen increasing interest in turmeric, petite baby bok choy and petite Shanghai bok choy, among other Asian items, while jackfruit continues on an upward trajectory despite its massive size.
“The trendiest fruit of them all in the category of tropicals is definitely the jackfruit,” Robert Schueller of Melissa’s added in The Packer article. “It has so much potential.”
“The only problem with the jackfruit and why not every retailer is carrying it is because it’s the largest of all fruit,” Schueller said. “These fruits are typically at least 12 pounds, but on average they are around 20 pounds.”
When the retail price is $2-3 per pound, jackfruit quickly becomes quite pricey.
“It’s a value when it’s per pound, but the thing is that retailers don’t want to deal with cutting it up because there’s a whole art to doing that … It would be considered kind of a tricky fruit to handle,” Schueller said.
Jackson Berkley also noted turmeric and jackfruit as growth items, particularly due to the plant-based eating trend.
Schueller attributed much of the buzz around jackfruit to its use among vegans as a meat substitute.
Both Jackson Berkley and Schueller mentioned dragon fruit has been a hot item as well.
HLB Specialities of Fort Lauderdale, FL report papayas and rambutan are best-sellers for the company, with rambutan experiencing the most growth since HLB began offering it three years ago.
Ecoripe Tropicals of Medley, FL points out rambutan, dragon fruit, durian, longan, lychee, mangosteen and soursop are among the items drawing the most interest for the company.