Thanks for your patience on this.
I extracted the information from the reports I referenced above --
along with a few more links provided below -- and organized it
according to the specific questions you asked:
* Current demand/consumption of Rambutan in the United States
* Future anticipated demand/consumption of Rambutan in the United States
There is very little information available on the consumption of
rambutan in the US. This is largely because rambutan is still a
little-known fruit in the US, especially outside of the few ethnic
groups that are familiar with it. Neither state nor federal
agricultural authorities have made a concerted effort to compile a
statistical history of rambutan consumption.
Nevertheless, there are certainly some indications of its current use
and the factors that may impact on future demand. In brief, domestic
production of rambutan has been increasing, as has the production and
consumption of exotic fruits, in general. Consumption still seems
largely focused in ethnic groups, although interest in and awareness
of rambutan among the general population appears to be on the rise.
Imports of fresh rambutan are restricted, due to concerns over fruit
flies and related agricultural pests. However, Thailand recently
gained approval to import rambutan into the US; the Thais are the
world's largest producers of rambutan, so their recent approval to
sell in the US may well change the dynamics of the market, but in ways
that are hard to predict.
Here are a number of excerpts from the documents I cited earlier, and
from a few other sources as well:
...It is amongst those from Southern China, Singapor, Hong Kong,
Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Phillipines, Thailand, Malasia, Indonesia,
and the rest of Southeast Asia that rambutan is well known. Largely
because of this group the US is already the largest importer of canned
rambutan. (371 metric tons per year in early 1990s)
...Amongst those who traditianally consume rambutan it is popular
during the Chinese New Year celebrations (January) as a gift.
Wholesalers note that the holiday months of November, December and
January are generally high demand times for fruit.
....Largely because of concern over the Mediterrenean fruit fly,
Rambutan has only been legally admitted to the US in fresh form from
Hawaii since 2000 with the approval of irradiation, and from Mexico,
Cental America and Belize since June of 2003
...most of the rambutan from the far East has always come in processed form.
...Unofficial reports site export to the mainland from Hawaii for the
2003-2004 season at 800,000 pounds.
Future demand is likely to come from increases in the ethnic
populations already familiar with rambutan, as well as the possible
growth in demand from the broader population, if rambutan is marketed
more actively in the US. It seems likely to remain a high-priced
specialty fruit, at least in the near future, though there is always a
possibility that it will go mainstream and become a fruit on the order
of, say, strawberries, that sees commone use across the broad
The "Market Potential Report notes the folowing about anticipated demand:
...Other tropical and subtropical fruits, such as mangos, papayas, and
kiwis, have established demand outside their traditional consumers as
a wider sector of the general populous beomes aware of the advantages
of such fruit. Imports of such fruits increased more than 50% in the
period between 1996 and 2002
...There is a trend that favors the new and exotic
..."The Merex Food Corp., a large importer of exotic fruits, began
selling rambutan about five years ago, but it is already "quite
popular," said Joyce Fredo, a spokeswoman for the company. Buyers, she
said, "are more sophisticated people who travel, tend to be
professionals, dine out a lot and read the food press. They're always
looking for new ideas."
Success of rambutan in other markets...Australia began to sell
rambutan in Japan in 2001 selling 300 tons at a value of US$3 million.
By 2003 they'd marketed 500 tons and were predicting 50% production
increases to meet the growing demand. Hawaii has had a similar
experience since 2000...Australia provides good experience in the
acceptance and growth of demand for rambutan. Australia has been
developing its rambutan industry for upwards of 20 years. According
to a study by Judy Noller for the Queensland Department of Primary
Industries, their greatest domestic demand is amongst local ethnic
South East Asians who grew up with the fruit. Australian rambutan
marketers have focused their efforts upon the higher income Caucasian
population with the hopes of mainstreaming the fruit. The hope is that
acceptance amongst this group will lead to a general demand amongst
the wider populous.
--The report also notes that shipments from Hawaii to the mainland US
have quadrupled in the past few years.
...With regards to the North American market, the question is whether
it will remain a specialty item at high prices, or will become
available in sufficient quantities, with low enough prices and proper
promotion, to become widely consumed.
[ excerpts from this magazine article from "Hawaii Business" gives a
good sense of a grower's perspective and sense of opportunities ]
Fruitful Business: The value of Hawaii's exotic fruits is up 35 percent
1 March 2004
...Rambutan, longan, carambola, jaboticaba - the names alone are
exotic. But add to them familiar island favorites, such as lychee,
poha and starfruit, and you have the makings of Hawaii's $1.8 million
tropical specialty fruit industry.
...It's a growing industry. Top sellers rambutan, mango and lychee in
2002 had combined sales of $1.3 million, equal to all of 2001 sales.
Overall, the 2002 farm value of tropical specialty fruits was up a
spectacular 35 percent over 2001. More acreage and maturing plantings
helped boost the 2002 output. And there's more of the same ahead.
..."We've seen more farmers here on the Big Island putting acreage in
specialty fruits," says Susan Hamilton, vice president of Hula
Brothers Inc., the state's largest producer of Hawaii's tropical
...The current Mainland rage for exotic fruits has been driving the
boom in the local industry. For Hula Brothers, a Gourmet magazine
article last summer featuring their produce brought "a flood of
orders" from all over the Mainland, says Hamilton. The cooperative
exports 85 percent of its fruits to the U.S. Mainland a large part of
which goes to Asian-American communities in big cities such as Los
Angeles, San Francisco and Houston - and supplies the rest to the
...On Maui, organic-fruit farmer Chuck Boener has initiated a sampling
tour of the exotic fruits grown on his Kipahulu farm, Ono Organic
Farms Inc., on the Hana coast, After his fruits were featured on the
Travel Channel and Chef Wolfgang Puck's show, phone calls from
tourists wanting to visit his organic farm prompted Boener to begin
the twice-a-week agritourist venture, which charges $25 per adult
(kids are free). On the tour, visitors are treated to a fresh-brewed
cup of the farm's organic-grown coffee, followed by a sampling of the
farm's organic exotic fruits
US AGREES TO OPEN FRUIT MARKET TO THAI EXPORTERS
1 February 2006
...The United States has agreed to open its market for Thai radiated
fruits, making Thailand become the first country winning access to the
immense Northern American market, according to Agriculture and
Cooperatives Minister Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan.
...US and Thai agriculture authorities signed a memorandum of
understanding (MOU) on an operational framework of reciprocal
practices in safe radiation covering bilateral trade of radiated
fruits here on Tuesday, said Khunying Sudarat.
...Under the MOU, Thailand is allowed to initially export six radiated
fruits to the US market, including mango, mangosteen, lychees, longan,
rambutan and pineapple this year.
[Information on yield is below, but frankly, I don't trust the
official government numbers...I suggest some follow-up on this]
* Yield per acre (average # of trees yielding X number of pounds)
* Wholesale Market price per pound a farmer will receive when selling
his Rambutan cultivation
The information from the USDA table shows:
TROPICAL SPECIALTY FRUIT: Number of farms, acreage, number of trees,
production, price, and value, State of Hawaii, 2000-2004
--60 Farms grew 270 acres of rambutan, but only harvested 185 acres
(12,900 trees in total, with 8,500 bearing trees).
--Overall production in 2003 in Hawaii was 306,000 pounds, which
received a price at the farm of $2.73 per pound.
Using the above numbers gives us:
306,000 pounds from 8,500 trees = 36 pounds per tree.
[NOTE: this seems low to me, but that's what the numbers show, and
similar numbers are shown for other crops...it would be worth checking
with a USDA contact to confirm numbers like these]
The contact information for the USDA in Hawaii is:
HAWAII DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
1428 S. KING STREET
HONOLULU, HI 96814-2512
FAX: (808) 973-2909
You may also want to take note of this useful report on rambutan from Australia:
which is undated, but seems to be a few years old, at least.
Nonetheless, it is a terrific overview from a growers and marketing
point of view. Note, too, that the yield numbers in this report are
on the order of several hundred pounds of fruit per tree, which makes
much more sense than the USDA figures.
[Lastly, I can't resist a bit of advice from Miss Manners]
18 September 2005
The Washington Post
Dear Miss Manners:
What is the proper way to eat rambutan?
...With the attitude that beauty is not important, and it is what is
inside that counts.
...You will need this even to approach this scary-looking fruit that
appears to be covered with fleshy crimson or yellow hair...But you may
take courage from the fact that you will be armed with a knife. It
should be used to cut the rambutan as far as, but not through, the
seed, and skin it, eating the flesh by hand, being careful not to
ingest any papery skin from the seed that should remain attached.
...There are those who advise leaving the skin on the plate as
decoration. Miss Manners is not among them.
I trust this information fully answers your question.
However, please don't rate this answer until you have everything you
need. If there's anything more I can do for you, just post a Request
for Clarification, and I'm happy to assist you further.
search strategy -- Searched Google, Google News and various offline
databases for [ rambutan ]