Supplies of imported papaya are likely to soon start increasing.
“The supplies of papaya have been steady. It was a little low at the start of the year,” says Edgar Millan of Caraveo Papayas in the Bronx, NY.
“But as the weather gets better and the days get longer, we start having a little bit more product to harvest and that helps. This started just a few weeks ago.”
He adds that when the temperature drops, papaya doesn’t ripen making it difficult to harvest. “But now everybody is getting more volume and shipping more.”
Currently in Mexico, a significant amount of papaya volume comes out of Colima, but also other Mexican regions including Chiapas, Campeche and Veracruz. Millan adds that there’s also some product coming from Guatemala.
At the same time, demand is stronger for the tropical fruit. “I think little by little it’s becoming a hotter item. Especially now that everyone is concerned about health and supplementing their diets to help their immune systems,” says Millan, adding that demand is higher than this time last year.
“People are also eating more at home and looking for healthier items and that’s also helping.”
Pricing similar to 2020
That said, pricing is similar to this time last year and Millan says that as greater volumes come on, pricing is likely to lower somewhat.
What could also be helping move papaya volume right now is an initiative that began in June 2020. It was then government officials from both the U.S. and Mexico, along with the Texas International Produce Association (TIPA) and the United Fresh Produce Association (UFPA) created the “Food Safety Best Practices Guide for the Growing & Handling of Mexican Papaya, First Edition”.
Accompanying the guide was virtual training which targeted growers and handlers of Mexican papaya to “bring the entire industry up to a higher baseline for food safety and minimize the potential of a future outbreak,” notes TIPA.
Millan notes that the guide is benefiting the entire papaya industry and that it also plans on increasing its marketing efforts in 2021 to promote the fruit more to consumers.
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