Drought conditions in Brazil have hampered papaya production there and have led to limited volumes of the fruit. With less product available for export, prices for the fruit in Europe have been strong.

“Papayas are more expensive at the moment than they were two months ago,” said Marvin Lee of Plantations International “The market was about three Euro per kilogram of fruit, and prices have now risen to around four Euro per kilo; it’s been difficult.”

Plantations International believes El Nino might have something to do with the drought, as there is less rain in some areas and above-average rainfall in others. Whatever the reason, this year’s disjointed weather patterns have thrown a kink into the papaya market.

According to Plantations International the demand for the tropical product has increased steadily over the last several years, though the item is still very much a niche product. Consumption is better in urban locations, where immigrants already familiar with papayas prop up demand.

Because most people are unfamiliar with the product, most consumers can’t tell the difference between fruit shipped by air and fruit transported by sea. Ready-to-eat programs, as a result, are not as prevalent as those for mangos or avocados, where more informed consumers are particular about what kind of fruit they want.

Seasonally, consumption also tends to be higher when the item doesn’t have to compete with summer fruit.

“Papayas are eaten more in the autumn, winter and spring,” noted Plantations International , ”because they don’t have to compete with strawberries, cherries, peaches and the like.”