United Fresh virtual workshop: Specialty and exotic produce
One of the workshops featured at the United Fresh LIVE! virtual trade show focused on specialty and exotic produce (Fresh Plaza, 19 June). The discussion covered what’s new in the world of exotic produce, the obstacles and challenges of gaining market access for new products, and how best to market these specialty and exotic products.
Upcoming products discussed included rambutan, papaya, pineapple, mangos, watermelons and melons; sugar snaps and snow peas; jackfruit, becoming popular as a meat-replacement product; and turmeric, which has been touted for its health qualities. Coconuts, too, have grown a lot and there are now certified organic coconuts on the market, and there are even ‘easy open’ versions. Charentais melon is now being cultivated specifically for the US market in in the Dominican Republic on a year-round basis. Also the yellow dragon fruit, or pitahaya, which is much sweeter than the other dragon fruit varieties.
Roadblocks to gaining market access for new products include limited scientific information in terms of the pests they attract, their production, their health benefits, etc. While Europe is generally more focused on traceability and certifications – both food safety and social responsibility certifications, the US is generally more focused on the phytosanitary side. Organic is becoming increasingly important in the US. Europe and the US have different pesticide lists, so if growers want to export their products to both Europe and the US, that is very complex.
The panelists also shared their tips on how to bring items into a new market: the naming of products, and understanding the consumer base, were the two key points.
Dominican Republic pineapple makes its way to Abu Dhabi
Rhe Monte Plata Pineapple Producers Association (ASOPROPIMOPLA) in the Dominican Republic has exported 1600 boxes of MD-2 pineapple to Abu Dhabi (Fresh Plaza, 22 June). Joelin Santos, CEO of ASOPROPIMOPLA, said this was a great opportunity for the association, as it opens the doors to a market normally dominated by Asian producers. Guillermo Jimenez of Agri Advisories, the Agricultural Division of Costa Rica’s SOLUTEC SA Technological Solutions, highlighted the good quality of MD-2 pineapple from the Dominican Republic. “Those of us who have been in this industry for many years are proud to see how the Dominican Republic’s MD-2 pineapple has achieved the highest standards after many years of hard work. I have had the opportunity to see pineapple operations in several countries in Asia and Latin America, and I must say that the Dominican Republic’s pineapple sector is doing things very well. There’s no doubt this product is gaining a share of the market thanks to its excellent quality.”
Namibian blueberry faces challenges
The prolonged lockdowns related to the COVID-19 pandemic have had a massive impact on a multi-million-dollar blueberries project at Mashare in Kavango East, Namibia (Fresh Plaza, 22 June). Although from a production perspective the impact has been limited, as water, chemicals and fertilisers are readily available, being able to get specialist infrastructure installed, and getting certain critical services like external audits completed, have required extra effort. Although there is growing demand for blueberries in the export market, with cancelled flights across the world, logistics will be a challenge for the season. Project director Albert Basson says “We will continue to monitor the situation and are making necessary arrangements to make sure our products will be exported.” Mashare will start with the harvesting of blueberries by the end of this month and continue for another three months, aiming to harvest 160–180 tonnes. Basson states “obviously that amount won’t be able to be sold in Namibia because the market here is very small. The main focus is to export the produce and this will allow us to earn foreign currency for the country and create many jobs.”
Increased ginger exports from Peru due to coronavirus
In the first quarter, Peru tripled its exports of ginger, which is used as a medicine for respiratory ailments and has been in great demand during the coronavirus epidemic (Fresh Plaza, 11 June). The Peruvian Ministry of Commerce reported that ginger exports increased 137% in April, a cumulative increase of 168% in the first quarter. The countries with the highest demand were Spain (+529%), the Netherlands (+255%) and the United States (+124%). In 2019, Peru had exported 23,400 tonnes worth $41.5 million. In Peru, ginger is used as an anti-inflammatory in cases of colds and flu. The country is the world’s fourth largest exporter of ginger after China, Thailand and India.