DATE: April, 2, 2019 / AUTHOER: Dennis Rettke / MEDIA: Fresh Plaza
Two years ago, it was almost impossible to find a yellow dragon fruit in most stores in the US because imports from South America had been prohibited. But now there is much more fruit on the market.
Suppliers of yellow dragon fruit from Ecuador are still settling into the US market, two years after they were given the green light to ship fruit. The season is rather sporadic with an expectation of a break in supplies through April before dragon fruit begins to arrive again in May. Suppliers say there has been a lot of fruit available and prices were low, but things are beginning to change now.
"Yellow dragon fruit is still a relatively new product in the US market," noted Andres Jaramillo of Tropix. "It has been less than two years since shipments from South America began, and now we are even seeing organic dragon fruit being shipped to North America. The current season is almost done. This is the first season of the year, with a second one from May to July followed by a third between September and December. There was a lot of fruit available and now supplies are beginning to shorten, with the market reacting after very low prices. With supplies tightening coming into April, we expect the situation will be different for the next few months."
Different markets for Colombia and Ecuador
While Ecuador enjoys steady supplies to the US as well as places like Hong Kong, Colombia's main focus is on other markets in Asia and Europe and also Canada. Dragon fruit has become more attractive as suppliers spread the word of its health properties, as well as its generally attractive appearance.
"At the moment, we are working mainly with the US from Palora and Maldonado, which are in the Amazonian districts of Ecuador," Jaramillo said. "Colombian fruit is also available, but they mainly export to Canada, Europe and Asia because market access to the US is still restricted."
"The market has been growing very fast," he continued. "Two years ago, it was almost impossible to find a yellow dragon fruit in most stores in the US because imports from South America had been prohibited. But now there is much more fruit on the market."
Working to increase volumes
To ship the dragon fruit from South America to the US and Canada, Tropix uses 2.5kg boxes, with each box typically holding between 6 and 11 pieces of fruit, depending on the size. Consumer packs are rare because most consumers purchase dragon fruit by the piece. Because of the growth in demand, the company is now working on increasing its volume to have the fruit available for longer periods during the year.
"Our focus is on exotic fruits," Jaramillo shared. "We are working hard to find new suppliers to increase the volume of dragon fruit and other commodities so that we have more available throughout the year. By the end of this year, we should see an increase of dragon fruit being shipped into North America."