Mexican papaya exporter seeks new varieties to expand its horizons
The Latin American country has seen 30% production growth over the last four years and is now the world's fifth-largest grower, but the lack of varieties that travel well has "limited" expansion in overseas markets, according to a representative of Coliman.
Coliman owns around 360 hectares of papaya farms in the second-largest production state of Colima.
"We are currently working with the Maradol variety, which is our predominant variety, and we are also working with Tainung," sales associate Alberto Peña told Fresh Fruit Portal.
While both varieties work well for sales in the U.S., they are not quite up to the trip to Asia or Europe. In a bid to find more suitable varieties for these destinations, Coliman has been working with a seed company. However, results thus far has not been positive.
"We are developing the Intense and Maradol Cera varieties, but we had not had good results with them, mainly because Intensa goes soft very quickly and marks appear on the Maradol Cera very quickly," he said.
Peña said the company had also been trialing the CW3, but the fruit size is too big.
"It would be complicated for export, because a piece of fruit can weigh five or six pounds, and normally markets like the U.S. accept fruit between three and four pounds," he said.
As for Maradol, Peña said it was very susceptible to black spot, which made it tough to reach far-away destinations. While the Mexican papaya season can extend for almost all the year, he said black spot "hit growers hard" for two or three months when there were heavy rains.
"One of the main challenges we have is combatting this fungus," he said.
The representative said at present around half of production was exported to the U.S. with the rest remaining in the local market.
"People from Germany have asked us for papayas, but we haven't found a variety that is capable of arriving in a good state after 15 days on a boat," he said.
"While we could do it, the costs would be extremely high, and in the south of Europe they have started to produce high-quality papayas, so we cannot compete price-wise at the moment."