Okinawan mangoes and pineapples are popular all throughout Japan as high-class gifts. However, as the pandemic will now extend later into the year, anxieties have arisen around slumping sales in the summer. Farmers, who would normally be preparing their produce for shipping around Golden Week, are now gripped with uncertainty about the future, and are saying, “It would be great if Okinawans would consume these fine Okinawan products.”
Okinawa, with a hot and tropical climate, is at the northern limit where mangoes and pineapples can be naturally cultivated, making the island chain the top producer of the fruits in Japan. Pineapples peak right around the opening of Golden Week, and mangoes reach the height of their demand in July, around the time of the Bon festival.
The sweet gold barrel pineapple, which was developed for canning, has grown in popularity and increased in price, and has seen an increase of shipments made for raw consumption.
Okinawan mangoes meanwhile experience stiff competition from Miyazaki prefecture, where they are also produced. Hidekatsu Henzan, head of JA Okinawa’s agricultural sales division stressed, “Okinawan grown mangoes are filling, and have a good balance of sugar and acidity. The taste of fruits from our trees is unsurpassed anywhere.”
Okinawan-grown fruits are often sought after as gifts, and are highly popular with tourists, and outside of the prefecture one fruit will often sell for thousands of yen. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, sales of high-class goods have been low, and low sales figures and price drops are expected for these fruits as well.
Now, with airlines having to suspend or reduce flights due to the pandemic, there are concerns about difficulties with being able to ship fruits from Okinawa to the rest of Japan.
English.ryukyushimpo.jp reports that, with mainland distribution slowing, JA Okinawa is looking to bolster sales within Okinawa. They started taking orders in Okinawa at the end of April, slightly earlier than they would for elsewhere in Japan. However, with the prospect of things like sales promotions at retail locations becoming murky, there is a limit to their chances for driving appeal in Okinawa.