Colombian passion fruits ready to enter the US market

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Colombian passion fruits ready to enter the US market

Colombian passion fruits have suffered a decrease in production due to pests, causing a reduction in volume. To learn more about this fruit category, spoke with the director of Corporación Centro de Desarrollo Tecnológico de las pasifloras de Colombia, Marisol Parra.

Parra explained that the presence of some pests has caused these crops to lower their productivity. As a consequence, growers have had to apply more chemical synthesis pesticides, which affects the quality and makes the fruits unexportable.

"That was reflected in the results of 2023, where export volume decreased 7% for passion fruits, especially to the European Union. The export value decreased by 3%, so we are going through a difficult situation," she said.

She added that the most affected is the gulupa, which is the main passion fruit exported with a 90% share, in addition to the granadilla which is very vulnerable to diseases.

"In terms of local production, at the end of 2022, the highest percentage of production was for maracuya with over 67%, followed by granadilla with 14% of production," she said.

Opening of a new market

To diversify export markets, Parra said they are leading the process of admission for Colombian passion fruits to the United States.

"We are practically on the verge of achieving entry, we have more or less 70% of the entire entry process done. APHIS and ICA are making all the comments and adjustments to the access plan, then the diplomatic and institutional stages follow," she said. 

She emphasized that they expect to be able to start exporting by the end of the year, "but this depends on diplomatic relations and all the negotiation processes."

"It would be important for us to open the U.S. market, hopefully, by next year because the situation with Europe is becoming very complicated, as they are adding more and more controls, adding more processes in safety and traceability of the fruit which is affecting the export industry sector," she said.

Parra added that since the largest suppliers of passion fruits are small farmers, they are the most impacted by these measures. 

She explained that among the required measures is to have better technologies and protocols in production crops, following the requirements and certifications requested by each destination market.

She indicated that they are ready to export passion fruits to the United States: "Along with the expectations that we will soon achieve access to the market, we are also reactivating new plantations and new areas are being reviewed to start working on crops."

According to the executive, there is an interesting projection of a gradual increase of passion fruits to the U.S., "to be able to export the same volume to the U.S. as to Europe, which reached more than 15 million kg last season."


Exporting challenges

Entering the U.S. market brings with it multiple challenges for the sector, one of them being technology.

"We are reviewing the issue of research and technology transfer to replace chemical synthetic products with more organic and biological products," she said.

The objective, according to Parra is to have more environmentally friendly fruit, and for producers to have cleaner production technology.

Today the industry generates more than 4,000 direct jobs and entering the U.S. market could bring greater benefits to small producers.

Consumer strategy

Parra says they are working on studying the target consumers for the product, not only in the U.S. but also in Europe. 

They have also participated in the Global Produce and Floral Show organized by IFPA, to meet potential importers and market expectations for Colombian passion fruits.

"Our passion fruits are the most widely consumed exotic fruit in the European Union, and the fact that they are produced by small producers means that they have a great social impact and we are supporting this rural work in areas that are sometimes difficult to access," she said. 

She asses that the Colombian industry as a whole, as well as institutions, are making their best efforts to guarantee quality fruit in export markets.

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