Dragon fruit and lychee are marketed as antioxidant-rich cancer fighters. Carambola, or starfruit, has a high vitamin C content. Passion fruit boasts a litany of vitamins and minerals.
Marketers of those and other tropical fruits say they’re working to get that nutritional message across in their efforts to build sales.
They also say it’s just one of their products’ many selling points.
“I think it’s across the board,” said Charlie Eagle, vice president of business development with Pompano Beach, Fla.-based Southern Specialties.
Eagle said tropical fruits offer aesthetics and flavor attributes, too, so nutritional value is part of a big marketing package — but probably not a major part.
“The fruits are obviously packed with flavor, the tropical colors are a phenomenal draw, and they’re beautiful on the plate,” Eagle said. “I think that the nutritional values are significant or compelling but, really, they don’t have the kind of nutritional impact that the dark berries do.”
Marc Holbik, vice president of business development with Miami-based Ecoripe Tropicals, also said the products’ nutritional value is not overemphasized.
“While many tropicals have exceptional health benefits, I do prefer seeing these benefits marketed more in conjunction with all fruits and vegetables in a well-balanced diet,” he said.
Eagle pointed out that papayas are good for digestion.
Karen Caplan, chief executive officer of Los Alamitos, Calif.-based Frieda’s Inc., also noted that asset and added that papayas also are known as a meat tenderizer.
“Many specialty fruits and veggies have special health benefits, so when it makes sense, it is always good to share with consumers,” Caplan said.
Mary Ostlund, marketing director at Homestead, Fla.-based Brooks Tropicals Inc., cited Caribbean red papayas as a “powerhouse” in the nutritional area.
“The color red signals the presence of carotenoids with many acting as antioxidants in the body,” she said, noting the fruit’s cancer-fighting properties.
Why the nutritional message isn’t emphasized more strongly may be a result of a lack of specific scientific findings on a particular item, said Gary Clevenger, managing member and co-founder of Oxnard, Calif.-based Freska Produce International LLC.
“Currently, the health benefits are really revolved around quite a few claims — ‘prevents cancer, lowers cholesterol, alkalizes the whole body, helps in diabetes, improves digestion,’ etc.,” Clevenger said.