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Kings to Carry Rare Mangosteens

PARSIPPANY, N.J. -- Kings Super Markets here will feature tropical mangosteen fruit imported from Thailand, starting tomorrow. Until now, the rare reddish-purple fruit, which Kings says tastes "something like a strawberry-orange smoothie," was previously allowed into the United States, due to fears that it couls harbor the Asian fruit fly, but irradiated imports from Thailand have been permitted by the USDA since July 2007.

The fruit is usually available canned or frozen in Western countries, or as an ingredient in juice. The mangosteen is widely considered a "superfruit" with superior nutritional features.

"Mangosteens are known as the best-tasting fruit in the world, and they have been reported to have many health benefits as well," noted Kings v.p. produce & floral Paul Kneeland in a statement. "Kings is the source for the exotic, wild, and wacky produce in the tri-state area."

Kneeland told Progressive Grocer that he had been "hounding his suppliers" to procure him the fruit since the arrival of mangosteens from Puerto Rico in 2006 created a great deal of buzz in the United States.

The upscale grocer will carry limited quantities of mangosteens while supplies last, for $14.99 per package of four. According to Kneeland, another crop might become available in May, but he envisioned the fruit as more of an occasional specialty item than a regularly available product. "Otherwise it becomes a kiwi," he said, referring to the once-exotic New Zealand fruit that's now a staple of produce sections.

As for permitted fruit imports from Thailand beside the mangosteen, Kneeland says he has his eye on "anything unique that will wow a customer" and enliven Kings' produce department.

Kings operates 26 stores in northern New Jersey and New York.
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