FRESH FRUIT & VEGETABLES

With an ever widening range of fruit and vegetables, Cyprus has justifiably gained the reputation in international markets of The Garden of the Mediterranean.

Fresh produce crops include a full range of citrus fruit, grapes, melons, potatoes, vegetables and aromatic herbs. During 2016, exports of fresh fruit and vegetables accounted for 15% of total domestic exports to the UK. The main export products were potatoes (£7.8 million), vegetables (£2.2 million) and citrus (£1.8 million). 

Production of fruit and vegetables has been further enhanced by the completion of a massive irrigation scheme which has opened up additional 50,000 acres of fertile coastal land.

A Government Inspection Service operates closely with both producers and exporters to ensure that strict international standards are maintained. All exports conform to EU regulations and the produce is inspected at packing house level and ports, before the necessary phytosanitary and quality control certificates are issued. 

Citrus fruit, grapes, melons, potatoes, vegetables and herbs are marketed by more than 30 fresh produce packers/exporters, most of whom are substantial producers on their own right.

Specially tailored labelling for supermarkets and wholesale buyers is a facility which is becoming increasingly available by Cypriot exporters. Sea transport with reefer vessels is available from Limassol and Larnaca. Highly perishable crops are transported by air. 

The main fresh fruit and vegetables available for exporting are the following:

Potatoes are by far the most important crop exported from the island. All export produce is grown in the southeastern coastal region known for its distinct red soil which is rich in mineral elements. The virtually frost free environment is ideal for the production of potatoes.

Due to its favourable mild climate, Cyprus grows potatoes almost all year round. There are three potato crops with the Spring one being the most important for export purposes.

The varieties grown are extremely versatile and they are used for consumption as well as for industrial purposes for the production of crisps and chips.

Main varieties:
Spunta, Marfona, Cara, Nicola, Sieglinde, Diamant, Timate, Accent, Liseta, Charlotte, Ditta, Filea, Obelix, Superstar, Burren, Slaney


Seasonal availability:
October to June

Cyprus offers a full range of citrus fruit available from October to June, with many of the popular varieties of oranges, lemons, grapefruit and soft citrus.

ORANGES
The reputation earned by Cyprus for high quality oranges reflects decades of experience with the crop. The main varieties grown are Navel, Oval and Valencia Late. The fact that Cyprus has been able to maintain and improve export volumes, underlines the careful cross fertilisation and skilled marketing undertaken by the packers/exporters.
Main varieties: Navels, Ovals (Shamoutis), Valencia Late
Seasonal availability: Navels: December to January  |  Ovals: December to March  |  Valencia Late: February to June

LEMOMS
Cultivation of lemons is steeped in the history of Cyprus. The high demand for the preferred thin-skinned, juicy lemons has ensured that the island maintains its place as a major winter and spring supplier.

Main varieties: Lapithiodiko, Eureka, Lisbon
Seasonal availability: October to May

GRAPEFRUIT
Grapefruit produced in Cyprus has a high juice and sugar content which is the result of virtually perfect growing conditions. New plantations have been established and there is now an export capacity for both white and red flesh grapefruit varieties.

Main varieties: White Marsh Seedless, Star Ruby, Rio Red
Seasonal availability: October to June

SOFT CITRUS
Originally based on Clementines, Cyprus has had a long experience in soft citrus growing. The increasing demand for easy peelers in world markets has encouraged the expansion and adaptation of citrus production with particular emphasis on hybrids.

Main varieties: Mandoras, Minneolas, Nova, Clementines
Seasonal availability: Mandoras: February to April  |  Clementines & Nova: November to December  |  Minneolas: January to March

 

Cyprus is a major producer and exporter of table grapes. They are grown along the coastline and on the lower mountain slopes in the region stretching from Limassol to Paphos. Grape maturity varies by area, thereby enabling the season to be extended.

Most of the crop is transported by sea on refrigerated vessels but early varieties are exported by air.

Main varieties: Sultana, Thompson, Cardinal, Superior, Perlette, Gold, Verico
Seasonal availability: June to October

Watermelons are widely grown in Cyprus and large volumes are destined for the export markets. Larger quantities of muskmelons are now exported, mainly the newer dessert varieties with a higher sugar content.

Traditionally watermelons and melons are grown in the open, but in order to expand the season, they are now produced under plastic tunnels and in semi permanent structures.

Main varieties: Melons: Polidor, Eden, Sweet Supreme, Sweet Ananas, Galia, Alma, Avava, Dikti, Makdimon
Watermelons: Crimson Sweet, Sugar Baby, Crisby, Dumara, Paladin
Seasonal availability: April to September

In recent years there has been a major expansion in out-of-season salads and vegetables. Transportation of the produce is effected by air or refrigerated trucks to safeguard their freshness and high quality.

ARTICHOKES
Their colour differs according to variety, but all are rich in vitamins, low in calories and high in fibre.
Main varieties: White Kiti, Black Macau, Green Globe, Black Mammari
Seasonal availability: November to May

AUBERGINES
Also known as eggplants, they are very versatile in cooking and rich in vitamins A, B and C, protein and phosphorus.
Main varieties: Bonica, Black Beauty, local Long Purple
Seasonal availability: March to December

BEANS
Cyprus grows beans of all types which have always been considered an important alternative source of protein.
Main varieties: Stringless Blue Lake, Kentucky Blue, Mini Doka
Seasonal availability: March to December

BEETROOT
Of various uses as can be eaten boiled as a cooked vegetable or cold as a salad. It is very often processed into boiled and sterilized or into pickles.
Main varieties: Boltardy
Seasonal availability: March to June

CAPSICUMS / SWEET PEPPERS
More attention is placed on well shaped and rich flavour varieties. They are rich in vitamin C as well as B1, B2 and D.
Main varieties: Gedeon, Apolo, Domino. Marengo, Ariane, Inia
Seasonal availability: April to January

CHILLES
They are mainly grown on a contract basis but are lately becoming an essential part of the line of production.
Main varieties: Red and Green, Kenya, Jamaican and local varieties
Seasonal availability: June to November

CORIANDER
It has a distinguished taste which can liven up salads. The herb has a fresh, citrus taste and is best added to dishes just before serving in order to get maximum flavour. Demand for coriander is increasing and has built up a fast developing export trade.
Main varieties: Tamasos, local varieties
Seasonal availability: All year round

COURGETTES/MARROWS
Also called Zucchini, these vegetables are an important source of vitamin A for vegetarians. They are grown both in the open and under cover and are becoming a crop of increasing export importance.
Main varieties: Elite, Senator, Ambassador, Embassy, Cora, Eminet, Clarita, Anita, Senatasy and local varieties
Seasonal availability: March to November

CUCUMBERS
Mini cucumbers are characterised by their tenderness and good taste. They are mainly field crops but in recent years greenhouse production has rapidly expanded to meet increased demand.
Main varieties: Passandra, Kastor, Cypria Danito, Hana, Selma Short 616, Thamin, Zena
Seasonal availability: All year round

ENDIVES
This salad crop is known by various names. Cypriot exporters refer to it as crinkly lettuce while the French call it chicory.
Main varieties: Local varieties
Seasonal availability: October to May

FRESH BLACK-EYE BEANS
Cyprus produces mainly the runner type which has long, tender, stringless pods.
Main varieties: Local varieties
Seasonal availability: May to November

METHI
Methi, often called fenugreek, is one of the oldest medicinal plants in existence. The young leaves and sprouts are eaten as greens and the fresh or dried leaves are used to flavour other dishes.
Main varieties: Trigonella Foenum Graecum
Seasonal availability: October to April

MOLOCHIA
It is used as a garnish in soups as well as a boiled vegetable served with meat or rice.
Main varieties: Egyptian varieties
Seasonal availability: June to November

OKRA
Known also as ladies’ fingers, in reference to the long elegantly tapering shape, is a good source of fibre. It’s widely used in ethnic cuisines. Its flavour is quite subtle, so it benefits from being cooked with strong, spicy ingredients.
Main varieties: Indian varieties
Seasonal availability: May to November

PARSLEY
Parsley contains three times more vitamin C than an orange, twice as much vitamin A than a carrot and double the iron of spinach.
Main varieties: Local and English Curly, Plane, Dark Green Italian
Seasonal availability: All year round

PUMPKINS
Exported mainly to the United Kingdom, pumpkins are used in both sweet and savoury dishes.
Main varieties: Local varieties
Seasonal availability: October to February

PURSLANE
This half-hardy plant is rich in vitamin C and can be eaten fresh in salads.
Main varieties: Local varieties
Seasonal availability: May to November

ROCKET
Rocket it’s lively and tasty in salads on its own. It contains sulphur, iron, iodine and phosphorus and is rich in vitamins and minerals.
Main varieties: Local varieties
Seasonal availability: October to May

SPINACH
This vegetable boasts a high vitamin A and C content and high quantities of iron and calcium. The development of nouvelle cuisine and salads has added a new dimension to spinach.
Main varieties: Vitoflay, local Curly
Seasonal availability: November to May

SPRING ONIONS
When raw or very lightly cooked they impart a wonderfully vibrant yet mild flavour. They are mainly grown for the export market because of the need for exact grading and packaging.
Main varieties: White Lisbon, White Knight
Seasonal availability: November to May

SWISS CHARD
Closely linked to spinach, it has broad, white stalks with dark ribbed leaves. Has a slightly bitter taste and mature chard leaves and stalks are typically cooked or sautéed. Fresh young chard can be used in salads.
Main varieties: Local varieties
Seasonal availability: October to May

TARO
Sometimes referred to as colocass, it is recognized by its distinctive brown, coarse outer skin and conical shape.
Main varieties: Local varieties
Seasonal availability: September to June

TOMATOES
Like many other countries, tomatoes have become a staple crop for Cyprus and is now firmly established in the export range. Local varieties have been supplemented with new smooth skinned, round shaped hybrids as well as tomato types of irregular shape and juicy flesh.
Main varieties: FA 179, Graziella, Alexandros, Belinda, Cherry Wonder, Gardener’s Delight, Davista, Muril, Olympic, Valentine, Kastella
Seasonal availability: All year round

Due to the favourable climatic conditions, Cyprus is an ideal location for growing fresh aromatic herbs. Most of the herbs grown are indigenous to the island and can be found in the wild. The plentiful sunshine and scarcity of rainfall ensure their strongest aroma. A wide range of fresh cut herbs is grown and exported while others are available upon request.

MINT
This herb is very similar to menthe and is used as a garnish in salads and food.
Seasonal availability: February to November

DILL
It is similar to fennel and increasingly used as a garnish for salads.
Seasonal availability: November to March

BASIL
Is a versatile herb having different uses in various types of food and drinks.
Seasonal availability: All year round

ROSEMARY
A woody, perennial herb with fragrant evergreen needle-like leaves. Rosemary complements a wide variety of foods.
Seasonal availability: All year round

THYME
It retains its flavour on drying better than many other herbs. Thyme is used most widely in cooking and provides lots of iron. It’s a basic ingredient in all Mediterranean cuisines.
Seasonal availability: All year round

OREGANO
It’s also a perennial plant and an important culinary herb. Dried oregano is often more flavourful than the fresh.
Seasonal availability: All year round

MARJORAM
Is a somewhat cold-sensitive perennial herb. Marjoram is cultivated for its aromatic leaves, either green or dry, for culinary purposes.
Seasonal availability: All year round

SAGE
It is much cultivated as a kitchen and medicinal herb. Sage is considered to have a slight peppery flavour. It is used for flavouring fatty meats, cheeses and some drinks.
Seasonal availability: December to February

TARRAGON
Has an aromatic property reminiscent of anise. It’s one of the four fine herbs of French cooking and particularly suitable for chicken, fish and egg dishes.
Seasonal availability: All year round

To view the main exporters of fresh fruit and vegetables, please click here or visit our Directory of Exporters.

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