In the Netherlands, the demand for Famosa papayas is limited, while Golden papayas experience a surge in demand, particularly in southern Europe, positioning them as a sought-after Christmas item. In France, the market is stable but complex, featuring papayas from Spain and Brazil. Italy, however, witnesses a decline in papaya market share due to falling prices and subpar quality, especially for the dominant Formosa variety. Spain, on the other hand, sees a significant uptick in papaya demand during the festive season, with a competitive edge based on proximity and quality. South Africa grapples with low papaya production levels, potentially attributed to adverse weather conditions. In North America, papaya supplies are expected to increase after months of limited availability, driven by factors like sunlight conditions and economic adjustments.
Netherlands: Demand for Famosa papayas limited; for Golden papayas sky high
The prices of Famosa papayas are not too high. According to a Dutch importer, one reason for this is the increasing competition from Spain, for example, there is currently production from the Canary Islands. However, the market did improve compared to the previous two weeks. The market for Golden papayas, on the other hand, is sky high. Where other years Jamaica and Ecuador sent Golden papayas at times, this year Brazil is alone in the market. "The demand is huge, we have ordered twice as many, but the availability is limited," says an importer who explains that especially in southern Europe, this exotic is seen as a Christmas item.
Belgium: Quality seekers still end up with expensive flown-in papaya
"Papaya is starting to earn its place on the shelf. Especially around this period, it is a product that many restaurateurs, but also more and more home cooks, are choosing. In Belgium, many restaurants are closed for the holidays, but it does not stop consumers from opting for an exotic fruit for once," explains a Belgian trader. "Yet we do see a trend going on in the market, with people opting more for local specialities to give a dish something extra. Flown in fruit get's a lot of bad publicity. And at the moment, actually our entire supply comes from Brazil by air freight. These are also quite expensive because of the smaller volumes coming this way. Nevertheless, people looking purely for quality still end up with flown-in exotics, but it does seem to be decreasing for us."
Germany: Demand for papayas is subdued due to oversupply
Demand for papayas is currently more subdued than usual due to an oversupply, says an importer. "This is due to the fact that some chains have canceled their orders in the Netherlands, which is why the goods are currently being sold off too cheap via the neighboring country. There are still a lot of papayas with a size of 4.5 kg available." The company sources papayas all year round exclusively from Brazil as air freight. In summer, he is able to market a lot of papayas despite the high proportion of local produce. According to him, papaya has developed into an important product. The situation was stable until two or three months ago, when a big discounter made a media announcement that it wanted to stop airfreight. According to the importer, the rejection of airfreight led to a drop in demand for papayas, which in turn resulted in an oversupply in Brazil. The price has otherwise developed very much in line with the market throughout the year, especially as air freight prices have also been stable this year, in contrast to the two to three years before. However, air freight space is becoming scarcer. The Formosa variety is primarily traded, although the Golden variety is also marketed in small quantities.
France: A complicated but stable market
The French market currently features papayas from Spain and, above all, the Formosa papaya from Brazil. While the festive season is normally a good time to buy this exotic fruit, the market is complicated at the moment. "The market has been difficult for several months, but is currently stable". Papayas are currently selling for between 3.50 and 4 euros a kilo for the Brazilian origin, and between 2 and 2.20 for the Spanish origin.
Italy: Papaya losing market share
There is a negative trend for papaya, with average selling prices tending to fall and poor quality. In the main Italian wholesale markets, the Brazilian variety Formosa is present, with prices ranging from €3.50 to €4.30/kg.
A wholesaler in Emilia Romagna says that papaya is losing some market share, at least in his marketing area. Volumes are low, it is a very marginal fruit, unlike other exotic fruits that are growing, such as mangoes. "The variety that circulates in Italy is the Formosa, which is the largest papaya. The varieties with smaller fruits are no longer appreciated. In recent days, the wholesale price of Brazilian papayas in the market where I work has been around €4/kg. Considering logistics costs, these are low prices and certainly leave Brazilian growers with very low margins.”
Spain: Festive season drives up demand for papaya
The demand for Spanish papaya has skyrocketed at the moment as traditionally the sales of exotic products increases during the weeks before Christmas. However, it is from March until June when the production peaks in Spain, with three times more volumes than in the current period. The Spanish papaya competes mainly with the airfreight Brazilian papayas, with its unique selling point being its competitive price with good quality due to its proximity to the European markets, which significantly reduces the carbon footprint. Since the biggest Spanish cooperative that grows and exports papayas decided to include this product in its exotic line in 2016, the production has been growing steadily, especially in the last two seasons, with more than 50% of growth. The main growing areas in Spain are currently Almeria, Murcia and Malaga.
South Africa: Low levels of papaya production
Papayas are acutely scarce this season, and producers are a bit “dumbstruck” as to the reason why: they suspect it’s climatic, given the unusually long spells of overcast weather that preceded the notorious Cyclone Freddy at the start of 2023.
Across all of the papaya production areas in north-eastern South Africa, fruit just didn’t materialize. Retail buyers say they’re battling to find any and they’re hoping by coming March or April papaya volumes will increase.
Better prices are paid for the little papaya there is at the municipal markets than by supermarkets.
“We are paid R45 (2.36 euros) for a prepack unit at the Johannesburg market,” says a producer. Three papayas sell for R60 (3 euros) at high end retail.
North America: Papaya supply anticipated to pick up
Supplies of papaya have been very limited in recent months but they are now becoming more available. Supply has been limited for at least four months now in North America and part of the issue could be a lack of sunlight impacting fruit set. At the same time, economics could also be a factor--like virtually all commodities, input costs for papaya growers have increased and in turn, they are adjusting. Papaya supply is coming from Mexico right now. As for demand for the tropical fruit, it’s fair to steady and normal for this time of year. While papaya may not necessarily see a bump in holiday demand, it’s likely to see increased demand come the new year when healthy eating New Year’s resolutions kick in. At the same time, general consumption is growing for papaya and it may have more room to grow than more mature commodities in the U.S. market given it’s still seen as a fairly new item. Meanwhile pricing looks similar to last year at this time.
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