Ecuador is currently seeing lower exotic fruit exports to the U.S. market as Florida’s production of these fruit traditionally ramps up during the summer months. Esteban Jervis, Commercial Manager of exotic fruit exporter El Frutal, says they are now looking to export more to Asia, Africa and Europe.
“At the moment demand for Red Dragon Fruit has lowered because its harvest season for the U.S. Florida farms. They usually harvest around the months of June, July and August. During these months buyers prioritise local harvests over international harvests. During these months we try to open new markets in Asia, Africa and Europe,” says Jervis.
El Frutal is an Ecuadorian company dedicated to the processing and exportation of fresh and frozen fruit products. They specialise in exporting exotic fruits straight from their farms located in Manabí, Ecuador to countries all over the world. Places that they send fruit to include Los Angeles, Miami and New Jersey in the U.S. and to Toronto and Vancouver in Canada. They have their sights set on the Netherlands and Spain while looking to export to Dubai and Egypt too.
El Frutal specialises in red dragon fruit and passion fruit, which they harvest all year round. “This year-round production allows us to accommodate any of our clients’ needs. We have different types of added value processes we can offer to our clients. We offer Frozen IQF, whole peeled IQF and frozen pulp of exotic fruits too. Our three farms are located in Santa Ana and Portoviejo province of Manabi. In La Tierrita our Maracuyá farm has over 15 hectares of land. In La Luciana our Pitahaya farm, which is really two farms has over 40 hectares of land. All of our farms produce fruit on a monthly / weekly basis. Our pitahaya farms produce more than 28 tons per month more or less depending on the season. We can send small aerial orders on a weekly basis and big orders in containers on a monthly basis.”
“Our Maracuyá farm produces around four tons per week or 20 tons per month more or less depending on the season. We usually send small aerial orders. If we do send on a container most of the time it would be a mixed fruit container. When orders are too big for our production or if our clients need it, we can always get more fruit from our associated farms. We are thinking of expanding our fresh fruit catalogue by associating new farms that wish to become part of our team and pass our filtering process,” explains Jervis.
He says shipping and airfreight rates have not really lowered for them and has even increased a bit since last year. “Shipping rates fluctuate depending on many factors but it seems they haven´t changed much from the last few years. The airfreight rates seem to have gone up a little too.”
Besides dealing with the increased costs a further challenge for producers and exporters of fruit from Ecuador is finding the right buyers. “This is especially the case in areas like the Middle East where we find a lot of scams that affect us and the industry. We ask for payment beforehand. If they deny or try to scam us into sending the shipment with no payment assurance we definitely know we are dealing with scammers,” warns Jervis.