Friday, September 17, 2010

Papaya supplies recover from cold-caused shortages

Stung by unexpected colder weather, papaya volume declined considerably during the spring and early summer.

In early August, grower-shippers say volume has been returning to normal.

In Belize, temperatures in January and February fell into the 50s and 60s.

Though not freezing conditions, those temperatures can stunt plant growth.

The plants, however, began recovering in June and supplies have begun returning to normal, said Mary Ostlund, director of marketing for Brooks Tropicals Inc., Homestead, Fla.

Papaya supplies recover from cold-caused shortages

Courtesy Brooks Tropicals

Though papaya volume declined considerably during the spring and early summer, volume by early August was beginning to return to nomal, shippers say.

“Retailers need wait no longer for promotional opportunities on papayas,” she said in late August. “Our volumes were much lower than expected through June. Now that weather patterns are back to normal, we are starting to see normal papaya production.”

Though Belize growers produce papaya throughout the year, volume surges in the hotter months, when papaya thrives, Ostlund said.

As most plantings occur in June, July and August, Brooks has been able to project volumes throughout the year by coordinating plantings to bring less cyclical volumes to market, she said.

Brooks expects to ship 2 million 32-pound cartons of papayas this season.

Brooks sees papaya demand increasing.

“We think quality makes the demand increase, especially for papaya,” Ostlund said. “The overall demand in the general consumer market is increasing as the Latino and Asian markets are remaining relatively steady. If papaya had a P.R. agent, we would hire him. It’s a great talked-about fruit.”

Once consumers overcome the initial hurdle of deciding how to experience a new fruit, Ostlund said they test the waters and consider ways to include fruit such as papaya in meals.

She said papaya isn’t like an ingredient in a recipe where one can add too much or too little of the item.

Ostlund said papaya is amenable to many recipes as shoppers can add as many chunks of papaya they like.

Brooks markets its papayas under its Caribbean Red and Caribbean Sunrise labels.