President and chief executive officer Karen Caplan said mangosteen is the No. 1 item sold on the website of Frieda’s Inc., Los Alamitos, Calif.
Caplan and Schueller agreed coconuts are another item increasing in popularity.
“Coconuts are very hot these days for their nutritional benefits, especially the young Thai coconuts and the white coconuts, which are younger and contain more of the beneficial coconut water inside,” Caplan said.
Schueller also said he expects demand to be higher than supply for dragon fruit, which World Variety sources from California, Florida, Vietnam in an August to December program.
Oh, and what about those mangoes?
“In the mango category, tommy atkins is the most well known,” Schueller said. “It’s available year-round, and it has the most beautiful exterior, but I wouldn’t say it’s the best tasting mango. People are starting to understand the different varieties.”
Schueller said yellow ataulfo and green keitt have less fiber and better flavor than the more common red and green tommy atkins, and consumers are beginning to understand that color is not an indicator of ripeness with mangoes.
Ostlund said mainstream retailers initially started tropical programs to connect with Hispanic and Asian shoppers.
“This appearance in supermarkets spurred upscale dining and food show chefs to try and to enjoy the exotic flavors these fruits add to dishes,” she said. “Food blogs, websites and specialty food magazines weren’t far behind.
“New reports show that Americans are always interested in new flavors as long as they are not too far out, and tropicals nicely fit that bill.”