Israeli seedless papaya production on the rise
More than a year has passed since Aurora, a seedless papaya from Israel, was crowned winner of the Fruit Logistica Innovation Award (FLIA) 2015. At this years event last month, www.freshfruitportal.com caught up with Aviv Export & Marketing of Agriculture Produce marketing manager Avi Zilberstein to get an update on the flavorful fruit.
There are now several growers dotted around Israel producing small volumes of the Aurora papaya, with a new grower about to take up production in May.
The FLIA win sparked a lot of interest from niche markets and now five hectares are under production in Arava, Ashkelon and just outside of Haifa.
Although volumes are not yet very large, Zilberstein says quantities are not necessarily an issue for Aviv because the company tends to focus on niche products. However, larger retailers are reluctant to enter into agreements if volumes are too low.
"There was a lot of interest in the papaya, it brought us a lot of other customers and through offering the papaya, we could also offer other products," Zilberstein tells www.freshfruitportal.com.
"There is big competition because papayas with seeds from South America are much cheaper, so we are trying to get the premium customers that are willing to buy and sell it, like in Switzerland for example.
"The volume is still not big, but from May or June we expect the volume will get bigger because some of the chains are not ready to enter into agreements if you do not have large volumes. We are waiting for the right moment when the volume will get bigger and then we can move it on."
Aurora papayas are supplied to the Co-Op in Switzerland, but Zilberstein says there is interest from Austria as well as Dutch parties wanting to sell the fruit to Germany.
"There are enough growers and people are interested in finding new products, new niches.
"As a company we not trying to get to mass production, we are always looking for niche products, the special things in order to get the premium customers.
"People are also interested in organic papayas which we also have."
There could be potential for the seedless variety to be grown in other parts of the world as the appeal for the Aurora, bred by Israeli grower Assaf Avizohar, goes beyond Europe.
"Aviv is marketing this fruit and we have a joint venture with the breeder. He is looking to find people who are ready to pay and grow Aurora is other places."
Aside from papayas, Aviv's other key produce includes 25 varieties of herbs and hot chilli pepper varieties like Jalapeño, Habanero and Fireflame.