Ecuador’s dragon fruit window is expanding. Up until last year, the country had production volume 10 out of 12 months. This year, however, dragon fruit will be available year-round for the very first time. “Although Ecuador had some production every month this year, October showed incremental volume and signified the start of the main season,” says Jose Roggiero with Freshway Produce. “It was a perfect time as Florida’s dragon fruit harvest had slowed down by that time, which gave Ecuador an opportunity to complement supplies and keep the momentum going.”
To expand the growing season, some dragon fruit farms in Ecuador have been using lights, stimulating the plants to flower and provide fruit during the northern hemisphere summer months. “We are noticing that Ecuador is positioning itself to become a year-round supplier of dragon fruit.”
In addition to using lights, the country is also planting more acreage. With supplies going up, increasingly promotable volume will be available. “We would like for retailers to consider dragon fruit as a promotable item,” said Roggiero. Ample supplies of white dragon fruit are expected for November and December as well as the first quarter of 2024. “It’s a perfect time to promote the fruit leading up to the holidays. Dragon fruit is delicious and full of fiber and vitamins, giving retailers an opportunity to push the health benefits. If offered at a promotable price level, I am confident it will be more attractive to consumers,” he commented. Due to short supply of mangos from Peru and Ecuador this season, Roggiero believes dragon fruit could step in and serve as a substitute.
El Niño brings uncertainty
Although lights and additional acreage are expected to result in a production increase, in the short term El Niño is an uncertain factor. “If El Niño turns out to be mild (no excessive rainfall), good supplies and quality are projected for the first quarter of 2024.” For now, white dragon fruit is in very good supply. “It is the predominant variety out of Ecuador and the most mainstream.” Harvest of yellow dragon fruit is winding down, but supply will increase towards December and into early next year. While supply of red pulp dragon fruit is low currently, more plantings of this variety are coming into production.
In addition to Ecuador and Florida, Freshway Produce also brings in dragon fruit from Mexico. “Mexico has great quality fruit and supplies are large during summertime, which is their peak season. Our plan is to source dragon fruit out of every country that is accepted into the US,” Roggiero finished.