Although dragon fruit (or pitaya) is already grown in China and some surrounding countries, a new report suggests Ecuadorian exporters could benefit greatly from tapping into the huge Asian market with a different variety.
The report, published the Ecuador’s Commercial Office in Shanghai in conjunction with ProEcuador, explained how although Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines and parts of southern China already produced red-skinned dragon fruit, the regions generally did not grow the variety commonly found in Ecuador.
“The variety that Ecuador produces is the yellow-skinned dragon fruit, which has a sweeter and juicier flesh, and would fare very well in China where the is great demand for new products,” the report said.
Sweet dragon fruit come in three different types – red-skinned with white flesh, red-skinned with red flesh, and yellow-skinned with white flesh. While most weigh 150-600 grams (5-21 ounces), some can reach as much as one kilogram (2.2 pounds).
The majority of the yellow-skinned fruit sold in the Chinese market is imported from Colombia and fetches very high prices on the Internet – between US$9 and US$20 each.
“Despite its high price it’s becoming more and more popular amongst Chinese consumers due to its high nutritional content, which is a crucial factor for them when shopping,” the report said.
The fruit is particularly popular in China during the summer when it is commonly used as an ingredient in desserts, and despite the local production it is still considered to be an exotic fruit.
“Ecuador has the advantage of being able to offer a fruit with a sweeter taste than the locally produced dragon fruit, and there has already been a lot of interest from local companies looking to import it to China, where the consumption is high,” the report added.
Dragon fruit goes by many names in China, and is also known as Chilin fruit, so-called after a mythical Chinese animal with a dragon-like appearance, and bird’s nest fruit, because of its skin texture.