By Shannon Steinkamp
The amount of papayas grown in Almeria and marketed by El Papayal del Mediterráneo is set to decline this season, decreasing from 600 tonnes to 400 tonnes. The new amount will cover the market demand from September to July.
The decline can be contributed to the desire to find varieties that will thrive in Spain’s unique climate.
José Luis Ruiz, a source from the marketing department of Biosabor, says: “At this time, we are looking into traditional varieties, as we have yet to find the variety that is best suited to Almeria's production system. That is why there has been a slight drop in the production.”
Biosabor adheres to all organic certification regulations concerning its fruits and vegetables, and it distributes El Papayal organic papayas around Europe. The demand for papayas has skyrocketed since Biosabor began marketing and distributing the fruit, and the growth is expected to continue.
"In Europe, there is a growing demand for tropical fruits, including papayas, mostly due to their nutritional benefits. The tropical fruit segment is also developing in other countries with a purchasing power comparable to the European one. Consequently, we hope that the demand for papayas will increase in the near future," says Ruiz.
In Almeria, the majority of current papaya producers previously grew vegetables. The popularity of this tropical fruit has encouraged farmers to convert greenhouses, which were used for vegetable production, into locations to cultivate papayas.
"We think that vegetable producers in Almeria will have access to the right technological developments in the immediate future, especially when it comes to growing practices and infrastructures. This will allow them to easily include papayas in their product range," says Ruiz.
Luis believes the popularity of Spanish papayas can be attributed to their "their proximity to the European market, which makes it possible to harvest them at a more advanced stage of ripeness, resulting in a sweeter fruit and in better tasting qualities for the consumer. In the case of Biosabor, the fruit's organic production also guarantees that it will be a very healthy papaya.”
This is a huge advantage for Spanish papayas and sets these European fruits over their overseas competitors.
Luis says Biosabor is working on many new varieties to add to their cultivation.
"At the moment, we mainly grow the varieties Intenzza, Sweet Sense and Caballero, although we have tests underway with a range of more than 20 varieties with the aim of finding the papayas that best adapt to the Mediterranean climate conditions in which we produce.”