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Thursday 2 June 2022

Why the world is going bananas for tropical fruits

Forget apples, oranges and bananas. Today's health-conscious fruit eater is looking for jackfruits, durians and mangosteens.

Also forget orange juice - making way for natural coconut water.

Health benefits and innovative promotions are seeing tropical fruits from nations such as Thailand gain growing followings around the globe.

Thailand's total fruit exports increased 48% in value in 2021 to some $US6.2 billion, Global Trade Atlas data shows.

Global consumption of fruits and fruit juices has risen in recent years due to push for a healthier diet, a trend that accelerated during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation declared 2021 the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables, calling them "dietary essentials".

Thailand's fruit output includes the durian, known around Asia for its strong smell, the mangosteen, mangoes, papayas, longans and tamarinds - all of which are finding new  popularity in Japan.

"Our policy has been to inform Japanese consumers about the variety of fruits Thailand offers," said Pimjai Matsumoto, Managing Director of P.K. Siam Co., Ltd., one of the leading Thai fruit importers in Japan.

"We started years ago with one type of mangoes, and over the years we added more mangoes, and now other Thai fruits, such as our coconuts, durian, mangosteen, pomelo, and tamarind. Tamarind is doing very well this year and its now available in many department stores."

While fresh fruits represent the largest share of Thailand's fruit exports, with Asia as the main market, the country also exports worldwide canned fruits, frozen fruits, ice creams, dried fruits, and drinks, such as pineapple, mango, guava, and orange juice, as well as coconut water.

Thailand was the eighth-largest global exporter of fruit juice in 2021, with exports worth $US630 million, up 13% from the previous year.

The market in the United States and European countries has seen higher demand for organic fruit juices, and a rising popularity for other healthy features, such as low sugar and low calories.

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