China greenlights Ecuadorian yellow dragon fruit imports

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China greenlights Ecuadorian yellow dragon fruit imports

The Ecuadorian exotic fruit industry on April 3 finally reaped a long-awaited triumph: the official admission of yellow dragon fruit (or pitahaya) to China, with first shipments expected in week 12.

Once the standard is published, 33 farms, with a total production area of approximately 400 hectares, and 19 distribution centers approved by the Chinese authorities will be able to start managing their first shipments.

Related articles: Ecuadorian yellow dragon fruit making waves in the U.S.


Among the main phytosanitary requirements stipulated by China, the monitoring of five pests was required, including fruit fly.

Finca Procel, one of the agro exporters leading the admission efforts, assured that Ecuadorian dragon fruit does not host the fruit fly. 

However, to expedite the process and comply with the required regulations, a 310.mile buffer zone has been designated around the production areas.

In addition, Covid-19 protocols will be added for the entire dragon fruit supply chain.

Francisco Ortega, executive director at Procel, explains that, thanks to the Free Trade Agreement between Ecuador and China and with the phytosanitary protocols already in place, the export of yellow dragon fruit is practically just around the corner.

"We will be shipping around 150 to 200 thousand boxes this month. And the following month would have a very similar volume,” he said.

The executive explains that, at this stage, it is crucial to secure good prices to further enhance the presence of the fruit in China. 

For this incipient campaign, Ortega projects returns of between 3 to 5 dollars per 2 pounds of fruit.

"Without the help of advertising yet, high prices could make smuggling from Hong Kong interesting and this can in the long run raise our prices and directly affect dragon fruit consumption in China," Ortega explained.

Production peaks for Ecuadorian yellow dragon fruit vary slightly, between 15 to 20 days, each year. 

Overall, the Palora region, which gives its name to the yellow-skinned variety, can produce about 20 to 25 million kilos for export.

"This year, January to March was our strongest season. We have a small season in June-July and a little more production in August. Then we push hard from October to December with a lot of production," Ortega said.


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