Papayas are having a moment.
“They’re not mainstream, like pineapples or avocados,” said Jose Rossignoli, general manager tropicals for Eden Prairie, Minn.-based Robinson Fresh, “but they’re definitely becoming more popular than other exotic fruits, like guava or kiwi.”
In a recent blog post, Rossignoli said papayas rank third in tropical fruit sales around the world, and global production increased by more than 5 million metric tons from 2000 to 2013, to 12.4 million metric tons.
He linked the increase in production to greater consumer demand, better post-harvest techniques and investment in new varieties.
Papaya’s evolution from ethnic exotic to mainstream still has a way to go, Rossignoli admits. In the U.S., five cities account for nearly 75% of papaya sales: Los Angeles, Houston, Miami, Dallas and New York City. All have significant Hispanic and Asian populations. And in 2010, total U.S. per-capita consumption stood at less than 2 pounds a year.