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Forgotten fruit within fresh-cut segment

Papayas are considered mainstream

US consumption of papayas has increased significantly over the past few years. “Nowadays, all grocery stores carry them and everyone in the US knows them,” says Luis Cintron with J&C Tropicals. “We carry 85 different tropical fruit and vegetable varieties throughout the year and I consider them mainstream. They are not as common as avocados, mangos and pineapple, but they come right after these three. With papayas, we are past the stage where we need to educate the consumer and retailer about the product," said Cintron.

“We are not known as a papaya house and even for us, the papaya business has grown significantly. In the last two years, we have grown from one papaya load per week to 2-3.” 

Year-round from Mexico
The Maradol variety is the dominant papaya variety available in the US. “It is grown in Mexico on a year-round basis. “During the year, there are usually two little windows with lower supplies,” shared Cintron. “Interestingly, these windows change and are weather related.” The industry dealt with lower supplies out of Mexico in August and September. Demand was high and supplies were not able to keep up. At that time, papayas were $20-$21 wholesale at the border. “Now, supplies are good and the price has come down to about $16.”

Maradol takes away from Solo
In addition to Maradol, J&C Tropicals grows the Tainung variety in Florida. This variety is very popular by the Asian population. The Solo variety that is primarily grown in Brazil and Belize used to be popular, but is increasingly substituted by the Maradol variety. It is a smaller and sweeter variety, but it is very susceptible to weather. As a result, it doesn’t look as beautiful as the Maradol. “Given that consumers buy with their eyes, this variety has become less preferred,” said Cintron.

Consumption drops around holidays
According to Cintron, the papaya is still very much a refreshing summer fruit. “Consumption tends to drop around the holidays,” he said. “Papayas are eaten cold and when the weather becomes cooler, people prefer other fruit varieties.” Cintron sees significant growth opportunities for papayas in the fresh-cut segment. “They are very easy to use and keep well fresh-cut, but people tend to include mango and pineapple in fresh-cut salads and forget about papaya,” shared Cintron.

For more information:
Luis Cintron
J&C Tropicals
Tel: 305-255-5100
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