Papino prices, very high for months, have been coming down over the past two weeks.

“Where I used to get seven or eight pallets of papinos every week, now I’ve been receiving three-quarters of a pallet per week,” a municipal market agent says.

“Papino production has been a big problem and it’s been in all of the production areas: Tzaneen, Malelane, Low’s Creek."

A cold winter has delayed ripening, while tropical storm Freddy in February and March led to severe flooding.

There are slightly higher volumes now coming to the market, he says, but at one point 4kg cartons went for as high as R80 (4.2 euros) at the market; the larger 6kg cartons as much as R160 (8.4 euros).

Prepacked papinos in a Gauteng greengrocer, August 2023; two papinos selling for R55 (almost 3 euros)

Papino cultivation is tricky, and there are not many producers in South Africa. Most production is situated in Mpumalanga.

Despite high prices, papinos are an indispensable part of the fresh produce section, beloved by many South Africans amongst whom especially the elderly are loyal consumers.