White dragon fruit out of Ecuador is now starting to arrive to the US in higher volumes. Jose Roggiero of Freshway Produce shares: “This year is actually the first year that we received product from Ecuador year-round, but there are periods of lower volume, the summer months specifically. Now we are starting back up with the high-volume season – the next two to three weeks will see mild volumes and then as we get into January, we’ll start seeing high volumes all the way through June.”
Higher volumes this season
This year’s volumes of the white dragon fruit will be higher than they were last season. “We have more farms coming into production, and the volume will be up 30-40% this year. The demand for dragon fruit continues to grow in the US market, but with the high increase in volume this year we are concerned that at some point the prices could become low due to oversupply. Demand is increasing, but the volumes are increasing at a faster pace, so it’ll be important to remain in close communication with our retail partners and have them consider promoting dragon fruit during the first quarter of next year,” says Roggiero.
While dragon fruit demand saw some stagnation during the first months of the pandemic, this quickly turned around. “After the consumers stocked up on all their staples, they started looking for more variety from their retailers. The retailers are no longer afraid of stocking specialty items, so dragon fruit was able to bounce back quite quickly,” says Roggiero.
Dragon fruit is a great addition to the produce displays in winter, Roggiero shares. “During the winter months, everybody wants to display exotic fruits to create some excitement for the consumers. The white dragon fruit, which has the red skin, is a great option for doing so because it really pops and has a lot of eye-appeal for the consumer. Additionally, they are also very healthy and have high levels of antioxidants and fiber,” he says.
Yellow dragon fruit saw some quality issues
For the past few months, Freshway Produce has been supplying yellow dragon fruit out of Ecuador. “Unfortunately, the yellow dragon fruit crop experienced some quality issues. This is because during the first few months of the pandemic, around March, April and May, the growers weren’t as vigilant with their crops because of the local lockdowns,” Roggiero explains.
For the white dragon fruit, the volumes that are coming in right now are of good quality. “The crop we have right now looks great. In January we’ll start receiving the fruit that was on the trees during those lockdown months, so we hope to see better quality than we did for the yellow dragon fruit. We’ll continue to monitor the crops closely to ensure that both sizing and quality will be at its best,” Roggiero concludes.
Freshway Produce is vertically integrated in Ecuador and works with farmers that grow exclusively for the company. Their state-of-the-art facility in Guayaquil is used as a hub for their yellow and white dragon fruit, and is transported to their distribution center in Miami, where food safety and consistency in quality and supply are their top priorities.