Handle with care
Papayas require special handling.
“If you don’t do the proper techniques, you’ll have no shelf life at all,” Crawford says.
On the other hand, retailers who pay attention to the category and handle fruit properly are likely to generate revenue, he says.
“This is a category that has a huge amount of potential and needs to have more attention and resources devoted to it,” Crawford says.
Hartmann de Barros says maintaining the proper temperature is paramount. Papayas should be kept no colder than 45 F (7.2 C), she says. Papayas that are kept too cool have “dramatically reduced” shelf lives, Crawford says. He recommends 50 F (10 C). When papayas get too cold, they suffer from discoloration, freezer burn or cell damage.
If it is necessary to transport papayas at colder temperatures, Hartmann de Barros recommends protecting pallets with blankets or stowing them in an area of the truck that is away from blowers.
Papayas are delicate. When testing for ripeness, pressure should be gently applied with a cupped hand, not just with the thumb, Hartmann de Barros says.
Build it large
Hartmann de Barros says retailers could sell many more papayas if they built larger displays and promoted the fruit.
“When we do tastings, we do a big display,” she says. “It has a big impact and increases sales.”
Carefully stack papayas with their necks pointed inward, Ostlund says. Because their skins are soft, papayas should not be placed directly on textured surfaces. They also should not be misted, she says.
Ostlund recommends cross-merchandising papayas in a salsa-themed display with limes, avocados, tomatoes, mangoes, uniq fruit and other items. She also recommends offering samples of salsas.
Half a papaya filled with blueberries, strawberries or diced fruit presents shoppers with a healthful breakfast or snack idea, Ostlund says. She recommends halving or dicing papayas that have ripened beyond 90%. They might no longer be attractive whole, but they can still be delicious.
Because some consumers like to drizzle lime juice on their papayas, Hartmann de Barros and Ostlund recommend displaying the fruits together. Hartmann de Barros suggests cutting a papaya in half, wrapping it with a lime in cellophane, and selling it as a ready-to-eat snack. Ostlund says a black foam tray makes for a good color contrast with the papaya and lime.
“Tropical colors brighten any winter dreary day,” Ostlund says. “Have fun with Caribbean displays that promote the fresh produce coming in — as well as the Caribbean itself.”