As summer kicks into high gear, retailers will look to tropicals and melons as a way to help their produce departments stand out. And technology and merchandising innovations from suppliers and industry organizations will make those efforts easier than ever.

Hawaiian papaya volumes this year should be similar to last year, said Eric Weinert, president of the Hawaii Papaya Industry Association. But if demand dictates, growers have the capacity to expand production rapidly if needed.

A technology that has benefited many Hawaiian papaya shippers recently is a shelf life-extending product made in the Netherlands.

“It slows ripening in the box during shipping, but once it arrives in the mainland the packet from the box and natural ripening resumes,” Weinert said. “This has helped extend the shelf life of Hawaii papaya.”

As they have for many other food industries, higher costs are impacting the Hawaiian papaya industry, Weinert said. In the case of Hawaiian papayas, higher fertilizer and shipping prices have been particularly troublesome.

Hawaiian papayas are a premium product to begin with, and the current inflationary pressures could cause more Americans to choose cheaper fresh fruit options.

That said, the Hawaiian papaya brand is strong, and shippers are confident that American mainlanders will continue to choose it.

“Papaya grown in Hawaii is the best tasting papaya in the world because of our rich lava soils,” Weinert said. “People who have visited Hawaii, and have tried papaya in Hawaii, know the superior taste of Hawaii papaya. People would like to have it available where they live — but it’s not available everywhere.”

To spread the word even further, the Hawaii Papaya Industry Association is expanding its social media outreach and efforts to inform consumers about the year around availability, great taste and nutritional value of Hawaii papaya.