The situation in the global papaya market is quite stable at the moment. In many European countries, the demand for the fruit is lagging somewhat, but its popularity is growing little by little.
The lack of air cargo capacity due to the coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on the supply and price levels of papayas, which are significantly more expensive than in other years.
Brazil is one of the largest producing countries and is able to supply papayas all year round. The two main export markets for Brazilian papayas are Europe and the United States.
Netherlands: Papaya market affected by the coronavirus; nowadays also papayas from Dutch greenhouses
Papayas are following the path of mangoes and avocados and are becoming a much sought-after exotic. Both retailers and food service providers are happy to work with it, although the demand in the Netherlands is still lagging behind, compared to that in neighboring countries.
Brazil is able to produce all year round, but in the summer, the demand traditionally falls due to competition from other summer fruits. European and especially Spanish growers are therefore also seeing an opportunity and aim to increase their sales in Europe.
A new development is that Formosa papayas are also grown in Dutch greenhouses. Their cultivation was first tested two years ago, and the supply is growing considerably, as the acreage has been expanded to 4 hectares.
A Dutch importer says that the supply of Golden papayas is currently somewhat more limited and that the demand is a bit higher. The supply of the Formosa papaya is good and the demand is average; however, in general terms, the sale of papayas has been affected by the coronavirus.
“We do notice that the demand in general has decreased somewhat. As for the price, it has remained fairly stable for years. The sales price is largely determined by the air freight costs. Due to the ban that has been in place for flights from South America for a number of weeks, air freight has become more expensive, which logically has led to an increase in the price of the product.”
Germany: Papaya is gaining popularity
Papayas are increasingly popular in the German market and are mainly consumed during the winter season, roughly between October and May. The Brazilian Formosa papaya is the most important variety, followed by others, such as the Golden.
As with other exotics, there is still a dire shortage of air cargo capacity due to the loss of many scheduled flights. As a result, the price level is significantly higher than in other years.
There are also attempts underway to grow papayas in Western Europe. Under the leadership of the German Weyers GmbH, a test on 4 hectares under glass is being carried out in an area close to the German-Dutch border. These fruits are sold through a German retail chain and some other stores.
France: Papaya market has been fairly stable for years
Papayas are available on the French market all year round. For the time being, the quality of the Brazilian origin is good and prices are stable. Since consumption is not really developing, the papaya market has remained fairly stable in recent years.
This is mainly due to papayas being consumed just by people who really know and love the fruit. In France, it is mainly consumed in cities by the Asian and African communities.
Spain: High supply and prices under pressure
The papaya season is now in full swing in the Spanish Canary Islands. This is the period with the highest production on the islands. The markets are also full of papayas from Brazil, Mexico, Ecuador and Costa Rica, so there is plenty available.
Papayas are an important product for the food service channel, which has been badly affected by the pandemic, causing the volume intended for it to end up at retailers. Given the large supply and the fewer sales channels, the demand has fallen below the supply and prices have been under pressure.
Although the papayas from Latin America dominate the markets, the Canary production is gradually gaining ground in Europe as a local exotic product with a lower ecological footprint.
Italy: Sicilian season from April to November
The papaya market is stable in Italy. A wholesaler in Northern Italy reports that both the demand and consumption are average. In recent days, the price for a 3.5 kg box of conventional papayas has reached €16. Meanwhile, the large Formosa papaya has been marketed for €20 per 4.5 kg box.
The Formosa papaya is mainly supplied by Brazil by air. The price is largely determined by the cost of transportation, but in this case, a balance has been reached.
Although Colombia has been trying, the sea transport of papayas has been discontinued completely because the fruit had to be picked too early and was still green on arrival.
The main customers are specialized fruit and vegetable stores, as well as the catering industry before the lockdown. This channel is now showing a very small recovery.
Papayas are also grown in Sicily and the season there runs from April to November. The most common and popular variety is the Formosa.
US: Demand for papayas is increasing
The papaya supply is stable, according to a trader from New York. At the beginning of the year, the supply was somewhat low, but as the weather improves, more can be harvested.
Currently, a significant share of the papayas in Mexico comes from Colima, but also from other regions, including Chiapas, Campeche and Veracruz. There are also some volumes coming from Guatemala.
The demand for tropical fruits, including papayas, is growing, as people are becoming more concerned about their health. The trader says that the demand this year is higher than in the same period of the previous one and that the price is on par with that of 2020.
South Africa: No large volumes at this time of the year
Papaya is more of a winter fruit in South Africa, so there are currently no large volumes on the market, but there is still some supply; about 2,000 boxes on the Johannesburg market.
The prices are good and in line with those of other years. They range between R25 (1.4 Euro) and R30 (1.68 Euro) for pre-packaged papayas, compared to the just R6 (0.33 Euro) paid during the peak season.
A market agent says that they are getting decent sizes for pre-packaging. He says the quality is good. The week after the rainfall that accompanied Cyclone Eloise, there were some delays, but now the situation is normal for this time of the year.
China: Papayas are not popular
Papayas are not very popular in China and the country has little production of its own. The papayas sold in the domestic market come mainly from the Hainan province.
The main production season starts in the month of August. The sweet Red Milk papaya is the most common variety. The price stands at around 5 RMB per 500 grams.
The papayas that China imports come mainly from the Philippines. Delo’s GMO papaya is quite popular on China’s online platforms and currently costs approximately 15 RMB per 500 grams.
Panama: Investing in a new variety
Panamanian exporters are introducing a new variety into the European market. The Hawaiian Big Papaya is a cross between Taiwanese and Hawaiian varieties.
It is slightly larger than the average fruit and can be produced all year round. The papayas from Panama are traditionally shipped by sea to the US and Canada; however, Panamanian exporters are exploring new markets and looking into new shipping options.
As they expand into the European market, they are considering, for example, air freight options. Papayas have a shelf life of 21 to 28 days, provided the cold chain isn’t broken.
Shipping to Europe by sea takes 14 days, so it is an option, but the product can reach the customers faster by air freight, giving them more time to distribute the fruit all over Europe.
Brazil: Mostly intended for domestic consumption
Brazil is able to supply papayas all year-round and has two main growing areas: Linhares, in the state of Espírito Santo, and Baraúna, in the state of Rio Grande do Norte.
The Linhares growers mainly cultivate the Golden variety (but also have some supply of Formosa), and the Barauna growers mainly cultivate the Formosa variety.
This week, there has been a lot of rain in Linhares, causing the supply to stagnate. The impact of this will be visible in the market in the coming weeks.
The supply from Barauna, on the other hand, is going well, as the weather conditions have remained good.
The main export markets for Brazilian papayas are Europe and the US, although the majority of the papayas are intended for domestic consumption.
There have been challenges throughout the year due to airfreight restrictions and high airfreight prices, as many papayas are shipped by air, so many exporters have used ocean freight to keep prices stable.
Australia: Papaya supply peaks in the fall and winter months
While Australia has a year-round supply of papaya / pawpaw, the peak is reached in the fall and winter months, up until spring. According to the latest Hort Innovation statistics, 19,648 tons were produced in the year ending June 2020; an increase of 32 percent compared to 2019.
There was also a 15 percent increase in the value, to $ 31.8 million. There are currently two main categories grown in Australia: red papaya, which accounted for 85 percent of the fresh production, and yellow papaya, which accounted for the other 15 percent.
Australia is a net importer of fresh papayas and in the year ending in June 2020, it imported 86 tons, while only 10 tons were exported; 78 percent less than in the previous year.
In terms of consumption, only 18 percent of Australian households bought fresh papaya, which means there’s plenty of potential to increase the fruit’s popularity.
By: Juan Zea