What is an exotic fruit? Your answer to that would depend on where you live. In North America and Europe, mangos are considered exotic, but in India, they are as commonplace as apples on those two continents. At Produce Buzz we like to think globally, but since we are in the good ol’ USA, we and the rest of the northern hemisphere consider tropical fruits like mangos, pineapples, papayas and passion fruit as exotics. But just because a fruit hails from the tropics or travels a long way to our table, it is not guaranteed permanent exotic status. The banana and kiwifruit have both lost their exotic fame because they are now so plentiful on western-world grocery store shelves.
Speaking this week in Berlin at Fruit Logistica, the largest trade show for fresh produce, Daphne van Doorn, Policy Advisor Communications and Agriculture at the Brussels-based European Fresh Produce Association Freshfel, said global consumption for exotic fruit is on the rise. China and India account for 38% of the global production of exotic fruit, but they consume most of it domestically rather than exporting. According to Ms. van Doorn, mangos are the clear leader of global exotic fruit production. They account for 58% of the 102 million tonnes of exotic fruit produced globally every year, followed by pineapples at 22%. But less than 10% of this volume, just 8.7 million tonnes, made it onto the global market. So 90% of “exotic” fruit is consumed in the countries where it is grown and most likely not considered “exotic!” So is a mango only exotic if it emigrates?