Exotics are part of consumers’ menus more and more often. People travel more, and are therefore introduced to exotic products more often as well. Moreover, healthy characteristics are ascribed to a lot of exotic products. Mango and papaya are good for digestion, kiwi fruit is full of vitamin C and ginger has a positive effect on blood vessels.
Exotics at Exofi Fresh Market in Brussels
Jan Vermeiren, of Exofi Fresh Market from Brussels, Belgium, could talk about the healthy characteristics of exotics for hours. “For our company, we read and summarised all of the information regarding the characteristics of exotics for our customers. As distributor, we have multiple functions, after all, including a didactic one towards our customers.”
According to Exofi, exotic varieties of fruit are selling better every summer. “That’s due to a number of developments in the world. We’re dealing with increased globalisation, we travel farther and as a result, we’re introduced to exotic products that we like and that we want to try at home as well. Accompanying that globalisation is that more and more people in Europe come from another continent. South Americans enjoy eating guacamole based on avocado. For this section of the population, the consumption of fruit is very different from that of the indigenous group. Immigration is an important factor. Cooking shows are headed in a more exotic direction as well. The good qualities of a lot of exotics and their positive effects on health are becoming better known. Recipes can easily be found online nowadays.”
Kiwi fruit, mango and pineapple
“Kiwi fruit is still the exotic sold most often in summer. This is supplied by boat from New Zealand and is consumed, as it’s a source of vitamin C, weekly in Belgium throughout the year. Mango is nowadays eaten in Belgium throughout the year, and mangoes ripened on trees and supplied via air cargo are preferred. We mostly get our mangoes from Peru. Right now, however, there’s no supply from that country, and we’re getting our product from Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso. Part of the mangoes is picked up by boat. The variety appreciated most by consumers is Kent.
Because of it’s high demand due to its healthy characteristics, more and more mangoes are being planted in Spain, making the product more accessible due to its geographical nearness. Pineapple has also conquered its spot on the tables, and is a healthy source of vitamins as well. In Belgium, the Sweet Gold MD2 is popular. Prices and supply are stable. The pineapple comes from Costa Rica, both by seaborne and air freight. Additionally, passionfruit and limes have become established in Belgium, and are consumed year-round. Passionfruit still peaks mostly in winter, particularly around Christmas.”
“Avocados still continue to be popular. This is another product we eat weekly, and sales therefore last through the summer months. The supply starts rising from week 22, and prices are very interesting. The Hass variety is popular, and currently comes from Spain. Other countries of origin are South Africa and South American countries. Besides Hass, greenskins from South Africa are still being consumed as well. Prices for these green varieties are generally about 40 per cent lower than the ripened Hass avocado.”
“I can say a lot about papaya, but I’ll keep it short; as a distributor, we’re specialised in this fruit, after all. We supply the papayas ripened on trees per air freight. The giant papaya is popular at the moment, and we have regular buyers for this.”
“A newcomer on the market is the sweet potato. The product has gained in popularity, and demand is still increasing. At the moment, the sweet potatoes mostly come from the US and Honduras, but in Spain and France they’re now being planted for production. Ginger is a product that’s being used in our kitchens more and more. We import from China, Brazil, Peru and Costa Rica.”
“Our other exotics sell less during the summer. Demand for wild mushrooms, star fruit, coconut, figs, pomegranates and dragonfruit is remarkably calmer compared to the non-summer months. Our volumes for these products are limited. Only the pomegranate is on the rise a bit among consumers.”