Papaya power

01/02/2013 10:46:00 AM
Susie Cable

A wintertime display of vibrantly colored, fresh papayas can brighten a shopper’s day and inspire thoughts of warm, sunny days or lush tropical isles.

Any time is a good time to sell tropical fruit, but a display of ripe papayas provides a psychological lift for shoppers on a gloomy winter day, says Eric Crawford, president of Fresh Results LLC, Sunrise, Fla. The company sources tainung papayas — also known as formosa papayas — from Belize, and it plans to begin offering maradol papayas from Mexico this spring.

click image to zoomproduce retailer papaya displayPamela RiemenschneiderLift shoppers' attitudes--and your sales--with big, bold papaya displays.

300">Although papayas are available year-round, January is a good time to promote them as production increases, says Melissa Hartmann de Barros, director of communications for HLB Specialties LLC, Pompano Beach, Fla. HLB handles tainung papayas and golden, or solo, papayas. It sources golden papayas from Brazil and Jamaica, and tainungs from Mexico and Guatemala.


Teach your shoppers

Many consumers in the U.S. think all papayas taste the same, but retailers could increase sales by teaching them about different varieties. Shippers recommend using in-store demonstrations.

“People need to know that if you don’t like one variety, it doesn’t mean you don’t like them all,” Crawford says.

The Mexican maradol has a strong, distinctive flavor that is popular in Latino markets, Crawford says.

“Take a Mexican maradol out of the Latino demographic and try to market it among a different group of consumers, and they likely won’t like the flavor,” Crawford says. “But if you take a Belizean tainung and sample those (with the same group of consumers), they’ll be amazed at how much they like the flavor.”

Hartmann de Barros says mainstream shoppers like tainungs because of their sweet flavor, mild aroma and uniform shape.

Crawford agrees.

“It’s amazing to me how many people say they don’t like (papayas), but when they sample a tainung, they say, ‘They’re fantastic; I love them,’” he says.

Demonstrations also teach consumers how to choose ripe papayas. Tainungs can be ripe and ready to eat when their exteriors are green. Maradols, however, are ripe only when there’s a yellow or orange blush on the exterior.

Brooks Tropicals Inc., Homestead, Fla., ships its Caribbean Red papayas from Belize and solo papayas from Brazil, says Mary Ostlund, director of marketing. A Caribbean Red papaya is ready to eat when the fruit gives slightly and when the skin is at least 50% yellow, Ostlund says.

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