In 2019, Ecuador exported 7,000 tons of pitahaya worth 44 million dollars FOB. As a result of this success, there currently is an overproduction that is generating a decrease in its price, stated Sebastian Bustamante, spokesman for the Association of Fresh Fruits of Ecuador (AFFEC).
Ecuador currently sends its pitahaya, 90% of which is produced in the canton of Palora, to small markets such as Hong Kong, Singapore, and other small Asian countries. The country, however, has been working for more than three years on opening the Chinese market; although there are still no favorable results for the opening of the Asian giant.
Despite this, there is also a demand for pitahaya in Latin America, in countries such as Brazil, Argentina, Peru, and Colombia. That's why the AFFEC has requested opening these markets. "We don't want to open markets where the fruit will be difficult to sell." The fruit is shipped by plane and freight costs are very expensive.
The AFFEC has also requested ending the lines of credit for new plantings of yellow pitahaya, as they will make the crop unsustainable in the short and medium-term. "Financing should be channeled for improvement, modernization, or certifications and not for new crops, at least until new markets are opened," Bustamante said.
The Vice Minister of Export and Investment Promotion, Veronica Chavez, said that opening a new market, like China, takes several years of negotiation. Due to the health emergency caused by COVID-19, the process is slower because the countries are being more rigorous regarding production processes and biosecurity issues, but the talks are ongoing.
This exotic fruit has international acceptance and demand, especially in Europe and the US. Ecuadorian producers have participated in international fairs, such as Fruit Logistica; which was the last face-to-face where ProEcuador participated with the Ecuador Premium & Sustainable initiative to promote the country's exportable offer. The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock is working on production, competitiveness, and improvement of processes issues to promote the improvement of the quality and production of agricultural products.
Currently, they are doing so in an articulated way. The pitahaya sector has a working table made up by the MAG, Agrocalidad, the Undersecretary of Industries, and ProEcuador to enter new international markets.