CBI Product Factsheet: Fresh Exotic Tropical Fruit in Europe

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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. 

Lychee (Litchi chinensis) is an evergreen tree which can grow up to 28 metres high. The fruit is up to 5 cm long and 4 cm wide. The white flesh is edible; the pink-red skin is inedible. Pitahaya (Hylocereus) is a fruit growing on a cactus plant. Three varieties are grown commercially: Hylocereus undatus white flesh with pink-red skin, Hylocereus polyrhizus red flesh with pink-red skin, and Selenicereus megalanthus white flesh with yellow skin. It is also known as pitaya, dragon fruit or cactus fruit. Passion fruit (Passiflora edulis) is a fruit from passion flowers. There are several different species which differ in shape and colour. Passion fruit is also known as purple granadilla in South Africa. In South America the yellow variety maracuyá can be found. Carambola (Averrhoa carambola) is also known as starfruit, named after the star-shape form of the cross-section. The fruit is green to dark yellow and can be up to 15cm long. Rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum) is a tree which bears fruit. The fruit is a round to oval 3–6 cm tall and 3–4 cm wide. The skin is reddish and covered with fleshy pliable spines. The fruit is fragile and is ripened on the tree. The fresh fruit bruise easily and have limited shelf life. The cashew apple (Anacardium occidentale) is a tree which can reach heights of 15 metres. The fruit is an accessory fruit or false fruit. The apple is pear-shaped and yellow and red when ripe. The fruit is perishable and has a fragile skin which makes transportation difficult. All fruits described above can be grown in tropical or subtropical climates. They are considered exotic to European countries in the sense that they are not produced in Europe and consumption volumes are limited making it niche products. The range of products in this product category is not limited to the ones listed below; other exotic (sub)tropical fruits include mangosteen, kaki fruit, cherimoya, durian, physalis, longan, and many others. These other fruits are not included in the trade statistics of this product factsheet, but most other information applies to these fruits as well. 


Michel Peperkamp
Piet Schotel
CBI Ministry of Foreign Affairs