This season, dragon fruit production out of Ecuador is very strong with February and March being the peak months. While the fruit is gaining popularity, consumption is not big enough to utilize all of Ecuador’s supplies. “Supplies have grown faster than consumption levels, which made the market collapse,” says Jose Roggiero with Freshway Produce. “We saw a similar situation in 2022, but it lasted only a few weeks and then the market recovered.” At the moment, market prices have been challenging for more than two weeks already.
Room for promotions
However, on the bright side this means there is enough volume to promote dragon fruit at the retail level and encourage retailers to make it a promotional item. “We’ve never had this opportunity with product from Ecuador before. We’ve been able to do promotions in July and August during Florida’s dragon fruit season, but never this time of year,” Roggiero added. Retailers have an opportunity to lower the prices, expanding the consumer base. At the same time, in-store demos and cutting fruit at store level will increase awareness and educate the consumer on how to eat the fruit.”
Store display with yellow dragon fruit.
Freshway has been working on weekly videos that educate the consumer and motivate retailers to increase their dragon fruit displays as the fruit adds variety, encourages healthy eating and is very versatile with its vibrant colors. There are three varieties: white, red, and yellow. White has a mild taste and works very well with fruit salads. The red variety on the other hand has an amazing color, is sweeter and is a great ingredient for smoothies. The yellow variety is super sweet and a great variety to consider for dessert. The videos have been a great success and as a result, Freshway will be moving to putting content online twice a week. “We are receiving very positive feedback on the videos. One retailer said he got his kids to try dragon fruit and they love it. Those are the highlights for us.” Click below for an example of a video.
More consistent supplies
In the past, inconsistency in supplies was one of the biggest challenges with dragon fruit. Not only with Ecuador, also with Florida which sometimes has inconsistent supplies due to the hurricane season. However, with Ecuador’s production increasing and new countries coming into play, supplies will be much more consistent going forward. Peru has received approval to start exporting dragon fruit to the US as of Q3, 2023. “Since the Peruvian season won’t start until early next year, we will see the first volumes from Peru enter the US early 2024.” Mexico will be able to mitigate supply shortages from Florida if needed.
Roggiero realizes it takes time for consumption to catch up with supplies. “As an industry, we will need to focus on transitioning dragon fruit from a luxury item to a mainstream product. It’s exciting and at the same time it will be challenging to go through the transition phase. I feel it’s important we work together as an industry to pass this hurdle.”
For more information:
Freshway Produce Inc.