The peak of what looks to be a very good Florida dragon fruit growing season has passed. “We’re just past the middle and from now on, supplies are going to start going down,” says Jose Roggiero of Freshway Produce.
He notes that this week, Freshway just finished a harvest on white dragon fruit and that leaves a small gap in supplies until the first week of September. (Harvest should begin by Memorial Day weekend.) Production on red dragon fruit out of Florida runs a similar season.
“The season has been excellent so far. This year was an early start--mid-June--and production started picking up for the July 4th holiday,” says Roggiero. “We’ve been really fortunate this year with steady supplies and for the most part, good quality. There are always some quality issues with Florida fruit because of humidity.” Production on this crop will wrap up in early October.
That’s when it will transition to Ecuador production, by mid-October. The first arrivals of white dragon fruit from Ecuador should arrive around that time and continue into the first quarter of 2023. Right now there is also a small harvest of yellow dragon fruit coming out of the Andes region in Ecuador and will continue to arrive through most of September. “This fruit tends to run a smaller size but it’s a very good eating piece of fruit so we propose that as an option to prevent gaps like the one late this month,” says Roggiero.
More production in Ecuador
In general, dragon fruit as a commodity is in a time of growth. “During the off-shore season, we’ll see more importers/exporters out of Ecuador. This could really impact conditions of the market during the offshore season,” says Roggiero. “There’s a lot of popularity with dragon fruit. But we’re also still transitioning from a specialty item to a mainstream product and during that transition, the market can saturate easily.”
And, to help build demand, consistent supplies of quality fruit are key to growing the category. “We’re very pleased with how consistent the Florida season has been this year. It’s great because we finally have good, steady supplies that can help retailers and consumers see fruit week in and week out during the summer,” he says. “It’s also encouraging seeing that supplies out of Ecuador are projected to increase this year. This could also bring more consistency which will benefit the consumers as they’ll see good fruit at convenient pricing.”
Indeed, demand is strengthening currently following a bit of slower demand earlier this month--not unusual for August. “But things are coming back and while pricing is still very competitive during the Florida season, prices will start picking up as early as the first week in September,” says Roggiero.