Archives for September 2013

USDA Says Aloha to Hawaii’s Sharwil Avocado

“Greetings and Welcome Back” is a traditional Hawaiian greeting, but not one usually extends it to a fruit, no matter how Hawaiian it is. But the US Department of Agriculture has essentially said it to Hawaii’s Sharwil avocado, allowing the prized green delicacy back onto the US mainland after 21 years with all its natural flavor intact.

sharwil-avacadoIt only seems right and long overdue, given that in 1992, the poor Sharwil was arguably a victim of circumstantial evidence. That was the year an oriental fruit fly larva was found in a Hawaiian packing house that processed Sharwil avocados, along with other local produce. Though never identified as the source of the crop-devastating insect, the USDA slapped stringent export requirements on the Sharwil. These requirements were so strict—exposure to cold, fumigation—that they would have destroyed the taste and reputation of the delicate Sharwil in order to save it. Stripped of its succulent, nutty flavor by cold and chemicals, mainland guacamole lovers would quickly have abandoned what was before a prized delicacy, leaving it to rot on supermarket shelves. Fearing the fruit’s reputation would be forever marred, Hawaiian farmers stopped exporting the Sharwil to the mainland and began the long process of clearing its name—and clearing it for export again in its natural state.

Led by growers and Hawaii’s congressional delegation, advocates of the fruit uncovered new research showing the Sharwil is at the bottom of the oriental fruit fly’s list of preferred hosts. The USDA has now approved export of the Sharwil to 32 states. Though Maui and the Big Island farmers grow close to a million pounds of the large, round Sharwils a year, the USDA projects the Hawaiian import will garner only 1% of next year’s US avocado market. But Hawaiian avocado growers are optimistic, with Hawaii Avocado Association President Tom Benton believing the Sharwil over the next ten years will find and establish an expanding niche market throughout the states.

Aloha and Ee komo ma, Sharwil, from your friends on the mainland.

 

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