Meanwhile prices have gone up slightly on papayas. “I’m not sure why exactly,” says Napolitano. “Volumes are strong and while the prices haven’t gone up drastically, we have seen a bit of an increase. A few months ago, prices were down significantly so I think we’re just getting back to a stable market.”
At the same time, Napolitano is also seeing larger fruit coming in for two reasons. “When we start cropping a new area of trees, the fruit is often larger because the trees are shorter and lower to the ground and the fruit gets more nutrients quicker,” he says. “And all of my growers are pretty much on the same cycle right now so the fruit is larger.” At the same time, colder weather also makes the fruit mature more slowly and therefore it stays on the tree longer and the fruit gets bigger before it’s cropped. “I’d expect most Mexican papaya farms are seeing larger fruit,” he adds.
Looking to spread out
While HLB specializes in organic papayas, it’s moving towards diversifying its organic crops. “Right now, the organics we are only able to do in Mexico. Diversifying the growing area for the organics in other areas will let us adjust and have more consistent volumes year-round.”
The challenge is the organic portion of that problem. “It’s difficult to grow papayas organically and in Mexico we do it by planting very far away from the coast where it’s not a typical area to plant papayas,” he says. Instead, the fruit is grown in a very dry climate where, while irrigation is needed for the trees, there’s less fungus and disease for the fruit, making it easier to become organic. “So we’re trying to see if it’s possible in other areas of Mexico and if so, where and how soon we can do it,” he says.
For more information:
HLB Specialties LLC