Chinese inspectors visit Ecuadorian dragon fruit farms

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Chinese inspectors visit Ecuadorian dragon fruit farms

Ecuador may have only recently begun exporting dragon fruit to the U.S., but the industry is now eyeing another major market opening.

Photo posted by Agrocalidad Ecuador

Officials from China's phytosanitary watchdog, AQSIQ, have been in the South American country this week on a technical visit to inspect farms.

Ecuador's Agrocalidad said in a Facebook posting that the Chinese delegation had been visiting the facilities of growers and suppliers in the northern province of Pichincha.

Although dragon fruit - also known as pitahaya - is already grown in China and some surrounding countries, Ecuadorian exporters are expected to benefit greatly from tapping into the huge market with a different variety.

Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines and parts of southern China already produce red-skinned dragon fruit, but the regions generally do not grow the yellow-skinned variety commonly found in Ecuador.

U.S. tropical fruit importer HLB Specialties recently said there had so far been a great reception from U.S. customers for the yellow variety. Operations director Andres Ocampo also said the Brix levels were between two to three times higher than the red variety.

Sweet dragon fruit comes 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).

A 2014 report by Ecuador’s Commercial Office in Shanghai in conjunction with ProEcuado said the fruit was 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.

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