Brazilian papaya production has almost fully recovered from a severe shortage earlier in the year and shippers report that supplies will be plentiful for the rest of 2008.
Since April, the supply situation has improved considerably and barring the usual volume dip experienced during July and August, volumes are expected to be normal. However, shippers are warning that there may be some issues with quality and sizing in the second half of 2008.
“We’re expecting to have a high proportion of smaller sizes, notably counts 10 and 12,” said Rodrigo Lima of UGBP, adding that because supplies will be tight until the end of August shippers will have to be even more rigorous with their selection to ensure that standards are maintained.
Francisco Vidolin, general manager of Frutas Solo, warned that if the temperature falls markedly during the winter, there could be excessive levels of skin bruising in the months ahead.
“The problem is that domestic prices are so low now that it may discourage some farmers from taking care of their crops properly which could result in poor quality fruit in the months ahead,” he said.
Brazil is the biggest global producer of papaya and the third largest exporter after Mexico and Malaysia, according to the Brazilian Fruit Institute (Ibraf). The main export destination is Europe but prices in this market been disappointing recently and planted area in the main production zones has contracted fallen steadily in the last two years as a result.
But shippers remain optimistic that more can be done to improve the market situation in Europe. Mr Lima points out that although seafreighted papayas have tended to attract disappointing prices in recent seasons, premium airflown product has fared much better.
“The biggest challenge we face is to find sophisticated and innovative ways to market our papayas in order to add value,” he said. “One of the main ways to do this is by creating new packaging formats, such as our papaya bags or clamshells, both of which have seen good results.”