For the first time in 15 years, the US government has approved the import of fresh pomelo from Thailand, Thai Department of Agriculture director-general Phichead Wiriyaphaha said last week.
“The department had in 2006 proposed to the US a plan to export several types of fresh fruit, but the US had allowed only seven types of fruit imports from Thailand,” he said.
“They are mangoes, mangosteen, rambutan, longan, lychee, pineapples and dragon fruit. Pomelo was recently added to the list, and it will be the first time in 15 years that fresh Thai pomelo will penetrate the US market,” Phichead said.
Eligible pomelo exporters must be registered with the department and have their produce undergo radiation treatment to eliminate agricultural pests, especially fruit flies, that may have contaminated the fruits, he added.
The other criteria include the plantation must be certified under the good agricultural practices (GAP) standard, while packaging facilities must be certified under the good manufacturing practices (GMP) standard.
Thailand has more than 30 pomelo breeds, but the ones that have caught US consumers’ attention are the Siamese Ruby, due to its pinkish sweet flesh and low seed count; the White Cucumber, that has a thin skin and plump, white flesh; and Thongdee, that also has pink flesh and lots of juice. These three signature breeds are grown in Nakhon Si Thammarat, Chainat and Nakhon Pathum, respectively.
Thailand exports pomelos to 29 countries, with the biggest markets being China and Malaysia. In 2021 the kingdom exported 29,782 tonnes of pomelo worth approximately 903 million baht ($27.4 million).
THE NATION (THAILAND)/ASIA NEWS NETWORK