Rambutan supply from Honduras is into peak production, a period which will last into early November. “We start from Honduras at the end of July or beginning of August and go into February. Typically, the rambutan season starts in May in Mexico and Guatemala and these two countries wrap up around October,” says Nick Bernal of Seasons Farm Fresh, Inc.
Honduras is seeing a crop with good volume and quality this season. Seasons Farm Fresh is shipping 10,000-15,000 boxes per week currently with two formats--the 5 lb. bulk pack, which is what most of its ethnic customers in the Asian and Latino communities buy, and the retail-ready 12 oz. clamshell. “I see more future in the retail packs, the 12 oz., which makes it easy for a family to take it home,” says Bernal.
As for demand, while it’s always highest for rambutan around the Lunar New Year, there are certain times of the year in which supply outpaces demand causing the market to soften. This exotic fruit item also continues to gain exposure beyond the ethnic communities it’s popular in. “If you look back 10 years ago, rambutan was just an exotic item in Asian and certain Latino stores. Now you go to any major retailer and they all have rambutan programs,” Bernal says. “The demand has been growing and that’s good because as demand has grown, supply has grown. People keep planting so we need to find a place to put all this rambutan.”
In all, the market is on the softer side right now. “We’re still competing with the tail end of Mexico and Guatemala so prices haven’t been where they were last year,” Bernal says, noting last year Guatemala and Mexico had issues with rain and other climate events and there was not as abundant a crop. This year however, production in those regions has returned to normal levels.
“The Pacific Coast of Guatemala is pretty much done while Mexico is winding down. That leaves the Caribbean coast of Guatemala. Costa Rica comes in with a little bit of fruit but it’s typically more expensive,” says Bernal. “We anticipate the market should firm up over the next few weeks going into October. This year, we’ve seen market pricing stay pretty stable.”