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Division of Marketing and Development
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Mayo Building, M-9
407 South Calhoun Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0800
(850) 617-7300

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Adam H. Putnam, Commissioner

Video Script

Title: Tropical Fruits Overview
Type: Informational/Promotional
Length: 21:21
Year: 1996

They're delicious ...
... exciting ...
... and exotic.

They are one of the newest waves in produce marketing. They're tropical fruits, and they're in hot demand by a demanding public.

But what are tropical fruits?

Although they're a new trend, tropical fruits have actually been around for ages:

The Chinese have harvested lychees for thousands of years.

Carambolas have been popular in Malaysia for centuries.

The papaya was enjoyed throughout Latin America, long before Columbus discovered the New World.

Though the general public is just now "discovering" tropical fruits, these delicacies have been staples in many ethnic markets for generations.

As we've seen in recent years, ethnic groups are the starting point for many trends that sweep the entire nation.

Take Tex Mex cooking, for example. Ten years ago few could spell or even pronounce jalapeno now it's the hottest ingredient in the fastest-growing specialty food in America. And salsa has even replaced ketchup as the top condiment.

Who would have thought? A multimillion dollar enterprise that had its roots in one niche market.

The same potential exists for tropical fruits.

America, the most diverse nation in the world, is made up of countless cultures cultures that have used tropical fruits in their cooking for generations.

In any major city you'll see produce stands and stores catering to ethnic markets a huge pool of customers.

That's the beauty of tropical fruits: produce retailers don't have to create a market it’s already there, and growing, as the general public is quickly embracing these products.

And don't forget the “Five a Day” plan and Food Pyramid. Tropical fruits are an exciting and delicious way for health conscious consumers to get their daily intake of fruits and vegetables.

They're an excellent source of many essential nutrients, especially vitamin c.

Tropical fruits are grown in hot climates around the world. Many varieties have been introduced to the United States and more are being developed that are well suited for our soil and climate.

One of the most important aspects of marketing tropical fruits is proper handling. For peak freshness and flavor, tropicals should be made available to consumers as soon after harvest as possible.

Careful handling is paramount it begins in the field and must continue through to the sale.

Ideally, tropical fruits, by the time they are purchased, are handled only three times:

Once during picking ...
Once during packaging ...
and once during display.

Special handling is often used for shipping tropicals:

Individually slotted boxes keep the fruit from being bruised.

Insulated foil wraps help keep temperature sensitive fruit cool.

Tissue paper keeps easily bruised fruit from bumping against one other.

Avocados, papayas and mangos may be pre-conditioned to ensure uniform ripening.

From cold storage at the packing house, the tropical fruits are then shipped to distributors and retail outlets via refrigerated trucks.

Okay they're in your hands now what?

Well, handling tropical fruits need not be intimidating. After all, you've been handling some popular tropicals for years bananas, pineapples, avocados and limes, to name a few.

Take that knowledge, add a few new handling tips, and you're all set to introduce your customers to a wide array of new and exciting tropical fruits.

Let's take a few moments to acquaint ourselves with some of the more popular tropicals you'll be handling:

Mangos. They're one of the most popular fruits in the world. The thin and leathery skin may be green, yellow, orange, red, or a combination of these colors. They weigh up to three pounds. Inside, the yellow to bright orange flesh is sweet and fragrant.

Mangos can be peeled and eaten fresh, used as a salad topping, in shakes and as a garnish. They can also be cooked in pies and relish.

Carambolas, or "star fruit." the smooth thin edible skin is waxy yellow with slight browning on the ribs.

Three to seven inches long, carambolas are star-shaped when sliced hence the name "star fruit." The pale yellow flesh is crisp and juicy. There are many varieties of carambola, most of which are sweet.

Star fruit can be eaten fresh, in a fruit salad and as a garnish. They can also be baked or grilled in meats and seafood.

Papayas. Round or oval shaped and ranging from four to 20 inches in length, papayas have a thin smooth yellow or orange skin.

Inside the flesh is yellow, orange, salmon pink red depending on variety and is slightly firmer than a ripe juicy melon.

At the core are peppercorn sized gray or black seeds that can be dried and ground for use as seasoning.

This mild and sweet fruit can be used in shakes, salads and marinades, as well as being peeled and eaten fresh.

Passion fruit. Round and about the size of a lime, the passion fruit has a thick, smooth inedible skin that may be yellow, red, speckled or purple and it shrivels as it ripens.

Inside are yellow to orange sacks containing intensely fragrant juice of varying sweetness and acidity, as well as black edible seeds.

Passion fruit can be used fresh in fruit salad, punch, tropical cocktails or as a topping or sauce.

Lychees and longans. Round and about an inch and a half across, lychees have a thin, bumpy, leathery skin that is brittle and easy to peel.

The inedible skin starts out pink to red, but may turn brown without affecting quality.

Similar to lychees, longans are round and about an inch in diameter. They have an inedible skin that starts out smooth and yellowish brown in color, then hardens and turns pale brown.

Inside the brittle shell is pearly white flesh that is juicy and sweet, surrounding a single seed.

Fresh lychees and longans can be peeled and eaten, or used in fruit salads and, stir fry.

Mamey sapotes. They come in various sizes, have a rough brown inedible skin and are shaped like a football.

The bright salmon red colored flesh is very sweet and creamy, and surrounds a large brown inedible seed.

Mamey sapotes can be eaten fresh with a spoon or used in purees, drinks and sauces.

Guavas. Round or pear shaped, guavas have a light green to yellow edible skin.

The red or white flesh is very sweet and fragrant, and contains many small edible seeds.

Guavas can be peeled and eaten fresh, pureed or made into jelly, and used in cooked dishes and sauces.

Other tropical fruits that are also increasing in popularity include:

annonas like cherimoyas
and sugar apples
black sapotes
white sapotes
feijoa (fuh zhoa)
and key limes.

Remember, tropical fruits have been handled very carefully up to this point. From here on out, your handling of the tropicals will determine the success of the product.

When tropical fruits arrive at your dock, it's important to get them out of the elements and into proper storage as soon as possible.

Once they're unloaded, carefully inspect all produce to be sure that no damage occurred during shipping.

If everything looks good with the delivery, move the tropicals into the appropriate storage area. Remember, avoid stacking the boxes too high as that could crush the fruit near the bottom.

Successful storage of tropical fruits requires keeping them cool enough to extend their shelf life, but not so cool as to harm them.

Remember, tropical fruits are just that - tropical and can suffer injury from temperatures that are too low.

The following temperature ranges are ideal for storing tropical fruits. However, if these ranges are impractical for your facility, always remember: never store a commodity colder than the ideal temperature.

Here are the recommended storage groups:

The ideal temperature for storing longans and lychees is 35 degrees.

A storage temperature of 42-47 degrees is best for: California avocados, star fruit, kumquats, passion fruit, and pummelos.

As you know, bananas and pineapples should be stored at temperatures between 52 and 57 degrees.

Other tropical fruits best suited for this storage temperature range are: Florida avocados, annonas, which include cherimoyas, atemoyas and sugar apples, mamey sapotes, mangos, guavas, papayas, jackfruit, limes and key limes.

Proper humidity during storage is very important. A high level of humidity between 85 and 95 percent -- will help keep these products from drying out.

Keep the humidity and temperature constant - fluctuations can cause condensation on the fruit surface and promote fungal growth, which will sharply diminish the shelf life of tropical fruits.

In storage or on display, proper humidity can be maintained by covering the fruit.

At the packing house before shipping, ethylene may be introduced to begin the ripening process of some tropical fruits.

But once the ripening process is triggered, tropicals will produce plenty of ethylene on their own.

To prevent over ripening, tropical fruits that have begun to ripen and produce ethylene should be isolated from other products that produce ethylene until they are ready to be consumed.

Limes, for example, will turn yellow with prolonged exposure to ethylene. They should be kept away from all sources of this gas.

Depending on the stage they were in when picked, most tropical fruits can be safely stored for one week. As long as they are kept at the proper storage temperature and relative humidity, their overall quality will not be affected.

Since it is sometimes difficult to know just how ripe tropicals were when they reached your store, be sure to check frequently for changes in color and firmness while in storage.

Once they are brought out to room temperature for display, tropical fruits quickly ripen and should be checked often for presentability, firmness and color.

In general, the room temperature shelf life periods of tropicals fall into three groups:

The first group has a shelf life of five days or less. This includes avocados, bananas, star fruit, guavas, jackfruit, longans, lychees, mamey sapote, mangos, papayas, and pineapples.

The next group, five to 10 days, includes kumquats, passionfruit, limes and key limes.

The last group, with a 10 to 15 day shelf life, includes coconuts, and pummelos.

Proper handling when placing the products on display is important. tropicals should be individually stacked never dumped into bins.

Soft, ripe fruit should be sold first and handled with extra care. Surface discolorations will appear if the fruit is bruised, scratched or scuffed.

Unsold ripe tropical fruits can be used for sampling or offered for use in your store's value-added products, such as salads and desserts.

Let's look at some handling tips for a few specific tropical fruits.

Star fruit ripen at room temperature and will turn all yellow with brown along the edge of the ribs.

They bruise easily if mishandled. A discoloration will appear at the site of any mechanical injury.

They are especially susceptible to water loss. If allowed to dry out, they turn brown at the edges and stem end. So try to keep them moist.

Papayas turn yellow as they ripen, and decay very easily if cut or bruised. Decay, in the form of mushy water soaked blotches, may develop at the stem end or sides.

Passion fruit naturally sweetens and wrinkles as it ripens. A shriveled fruit is ready to eat. Watch for decay on the sides or stem end.

Lychees and longans darken in color if not kept properly refrigerated and well humidified, although they still retain their flavor. Watch out for split skins.

Mamey sapotes ripen at room temperature until soft. They can become overripe very quickly and may decay or develop off flavors.

Guavas ripen at room temperature until yellow, fragrant and slightly soft. Handle guavas carefully, since they can bruise easily.

Great care has gone into getting these luscious tropical fruits to your display floor and ready for sale.

Many of your customers are already quite familiar with these products.

Many others will be curious about these exotic fruits with strange names. With a little nurturing on your part, their curiosity will translate into sales.

Keep these tips in mind when marketing tropical fruits to your customers:

Group together many different tropicals for exciting visual impact.

Tropical fruits can bruise, so don't stack your display too high.

Nothing takes the place of personally tasting a tropical fruit. A fresh ripe sample can't be beat. Never use immature fruit for sampling - always use the ripe fruit. Samples lead to sales.

The importance of consumer information cannot be over emphasized. Customers will want to know how the fruits are consumed. are they best fresh or cooked? What can they be used in place of?

Your customers will be counting on you to answer their questions about tropical fruits. Don't be caught unprepared it can quickly dampen a customer's enthusiasm for a new product.

Customers will also want to know how to pick out ripe tropical fruits and how long they will keep after the purchase. Putting "Ripe" stickers on fruit that's ready to eat is a great way to help your customers.

Customers will also appreciate tips on refrigerating, freezing and drying tropical fruits.

Once ripe, these tropicals will keep in the refrigerator for one to three days: star fruit, avocados, mangos, mamey sapotes and guavas.

These tropicals will keep in the refrigerator for a week: papayas, passion fruit, lychees and longans.

Some tropicals can be frozen after they ripen. These include: mangos, passion fruit, lychees, longans, and mamey sapotes.

Drying is a popular way for customers to prepare these ripened tropicals: mangos, star fruit, papayas, lychees, longans, and mamey sapotes.

Although most tropical fruits are great when eaten fresh, don't forget to promote their use in cooked dishes.

Feature samples of foods prepared with tropical fruits. And be sure to have plenty of recipe cards to distribute.

Marketing tropical fruits to your customers will add excitement and variety to your produce department.

Use festive signage and shelf talkers to draw customers to the display.

You can generate even more customer interest in your presentation with point of sale videos.

Displays with cultural themes can double sales. They attract customers from all backgrounds and entice them to try something new and exciting.

With a little ingenuity, your customers can "discover" these centuries old products. And you will be riding the new wave of produce marketing tropical fruits.

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