Gothamist loves the delicate, sweet, perfumey flavor of China's most famous dessert fruit, the litchi (also spelled lychee). We can't pass by a fruit cart in Chinatown without picking up a bunch of litchis to nibble on. But it seems the popularity of the litchi has led to something of an economic crisis in their home country, as entrepreneurial Chinese farmers have raced into the litchi market in the hopes of reaping huge profits, only to see their efforts create a glut of litchis and send their price plummeting. According to the New York Times:
[I]n the last few years, litchi production has soared beyond anyone's expectations. Retail prices have crashed, from $4 to $7 a pound in the 1980's for the best-quality litchis and $25 a pound during a bad harvest in 1993 to just 75 cents a pound now. For the most widely grown variety, the lower-quality heiye, retail prices have collapsed to less than 12 cents for a little more than a pound.
One would think this would be good news for the consumer, but unfortunately most of the cost of litchis in this country is attributable to their transportation halfway around the world. Perhaps it's no surprise then that there's a burgeoning litchi industry in southern Florida, complete with guides to independent cultivation. Who knows, maybe we will be able to get tasty litchis at a lower price when litchi season rolls around next summer.