Fresh exotic tropical fruits are mostly grown in developing countries and are still considered niche products in Europe. Prices are generally high, often due to low volumes and necessary air transport. Communicating the health benefits of tropical fruit can help increase demand. Purple passion fruit is a tropical fruit that is becoming more popular. This product factsheet covers a number of exotic tropical fruits, mainly tamarinds, cashew apples, lychees, jackfruit, sapodillo plums, passion fruit, carambola and pitahaya.
The European market for fresh rambutan is dominated by ethnic Asian consumers and specialty fruits and vegetables stores. Demand for specialty fruits is rising in many European countries, providing opportunities for exporters from developing countries.
The European market for exotic roots and tubers is small but growing. Cassava and yams are the biggest sellers. Volumes of taro, yautia or malanga and other roots that are less well known in the European market, are still very small. The main market are ethnic food shops and restaurants, but increasing interest in exotic vegetables and stimulating consumer awareness of the culinary possibilities can help develop the market channels for exotic roots and tubers.
The European Union (EU) is a net importer of fresh pomegranates. In 2014, 42 thousand tonnes of pomegranates (imports minus exports) were added to the apparent consumption of pomegranates in the EU, in addition to the volume produced locally. Pomegranates are a luxury fruit that sells well in a higher segment. The demand for more exotic and healthy fruit can help increase profitability for exporters from developing countries.
Imports of fresh berries into the European market from developing countries have doubled over the past five years. Berries are increasingly offered as a convenient and healthy snack, seducing shoppers into buying them. Although many berries are grown in Europe itself, demand is much higher than European production and imports from developing countries are filling in the gap.
Pomelos are imported via the same ports in Europe as other fruit, most notably in the Netherlands. The supply per country varies depending on production volume and the demand in the producing country. Fresh pomelos are a niche market in most European markets. Eastern and Central Europe has a steady demand for fresh pomelos, while opportunities in Western Europe can be triggered by active promotion and excellent taste.
Lychee is a specialty fruit that is slowly gaining popularity in Europe, although average consumption per capita is still limited. It is most popular in France. Madagascar and South Africa supply the majority of lychees during the winter season (from October to February). Opportunities for new suppliers exist in specialties and outside of the main season.
Exporters from developing countries (DCs) can profit from the growing German imports of fresh avocados. Good opportunities exist for ready-to-eat avocados. Additionally, DC exporters can differentiate themselves on the market with organic certification.
Imports of fresh pineapples into the EU market have stabilised at about 900,000 tonnes in recent years. In 2014, imports increased relative to 2012 and 2013. The main imported variety is the sweet MD2 pineapple. Major European destination markets for fresh pineapples include Germany, the UK, Italy and Spain. The world pineapple trade is dominated by a few multinational companies: Dole Food Company, Del Monte Foods, Fyffes and Chiquita. Smaller exporters from developing countries must seek differentiation in niches, quality or price.