The tropical fruit category has been the star performer for Los Angeles-based World Variety Produce, which markets product under the Melissa’s label, said Robert Schueller, director of media relations.
Dragon fruit, passion fruit, jackfruit and mangoes in particular have enjoyed strong growth.
Melissa’s dragon fruit include white-, red- and yellow-flesh varieties. One of the keys to the fruit’s growth, Schueller said, has been the increase in year-round availability as new varieties have come online.
And it’s also great as an ingredient in other products.
“It’s a popular flavor in other food companies’ products, like coffee and tea companies, juice companies and frozen yogurt companies.”
Dragon fruit has also gotten a boost from “finally” getting more media play, Schueller said. Melissa’s is the largest US supplier of dragon fruit. Product comes from Vietnam, Nicaragua, Honduras, Ecuador, California and Florida.
Passion fruit has also benefited from increased availability, Schueller said. Melissa’s now ships it 10 months out of the year.
Jackfruit is also available more throughout the year than in the past, and it’s increasingly being used as a vegan substitute for meat, he added.
An increase in production of vine-ripened mangoes, meanwhile, has driven strong growth in that category for Melissa’s.
Even when they’re costlier than other options in the produce department, many specialty items continue to sell well.
For instance, pink pineapples from Los Angeles-based World Variety Produce, which markets product under the Melissa’s label, were selling for $20 in a $4 market this spring, said Robert Schueller, the company’s director of media relations.
Harry Berries strawberries, meanwhile, were moving well at $15 in a $4 market, he said.