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Papaya growers work to regain consumers’ trust after salmonella reports

Papaya growers are working to bounce back from the spate of salmonella-outbreak reports that happened in the U.S. throughout the summer.

“Since the salmonella breakouts, demand has been low, so all of the markets are experiencing a bit of a slow season at the moment,” says Lance Peterson of Pharr, Tex.-based Super Starr International. “As time goes by and the salmonella reports decrease, papaya consumption should pick up as people begin to get comfortable eating the fruit again. That’s the biggest challenge we’ve faced: getting people to feel safe consuming papayas again.”

Royal Star papayas Photo credit: Super Starr International

Supplies dip
For now, supplies are relatively low of this tropical fruit. “Due to weather and farm seasonality, supplies are lower than average on our farms, but this volume is steadily growing back,” says Tadeo Better of Agromod Produce, also of Pharr. “We expect it to normalize again by the first weeks of October, as the production cycle leaves the first crops behind.”

Volume rebuilding for Agromod's papayas

Both companies source papayas from Mexico—Agromod from Chiapas while Superstarr from Colima—and competition is coming from other Mexican regions including Veracruz, Jalisco, Campeche, San Luis Potosi and Yucatan. “And now only the few of us who are able to prove our product is safe and complies with the needed food safety requirements can bring papayas into the US,” says Better. “This will boost the consumers’ trust.”

Pricing to climb?
Meanwhile pricing, for now, seems to be holding. “The expectation is that the pricing should stay steady for the next couple of weeks, really until demand begins to pick up,” says Peterson.

“This year has been terrible price-wise compared to last year due to a surplus in papaya, but it turned around in the past months since some growers are no longer allowed to export, or have faced problems due to the recent food safety issues,” says Better, who says the company recognizes the responsibility it carries for its customers and that its clients have recognized the food safety program it put in place already years ago. “This decreased the available papaya in the US drastically. We forecast a good market for us this season since our production volume is increasing along with a stable, and finally good, price. We expect the price and demand to continue stable, our production is slowly increasing and we expect to be able to return to our normal production volume in about two weeks.

For more information:
Lance Peterson
Superstarr International
Tel: (956) 510-8126

Tadeo Better
Agromod Produce Inc.
Tel: +1-956-618-2139

Publication date: 9/27/2017
Author: Astrid van den Broek
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


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