The Papaya Journey

A lot of love and hard work goes into getting a fresh Neofresh papaya on your plate. The process starts with careful selection and cross-breeding to produce our own seed. This is done by pollinating female flowers with the correct pollen and closing the flowers to prevent subsequent pollination with incorrect pollen. Seedlings are planted at a density of 6600 plants per hectare. After the emergence of the first flowers, the plants are “sexed”, leaving 2200 plants per hectare. This is done to reach a predetermined ratio between female and hermaphrodite plants.

Planting is done in tramline formation on ridges. The latter is done to ensure good drainage.
Fertilizer application is determined by soil and leaf analysis. Preference is given to organic fertilizer. No insecticides are used. Environmentally friendly fungicides are sprayed on the fruit. To ensure and adhere to food safety requirements, only locally and internationally accepted pre-harvest sprays and post-harvest chemicals are used on our crops. No products on banned or “red” lists are applied. All volumes of applied chemicals are carefully measured, recorded and audited.

We regard ourselves as custodians of the land. High emphasis is placed on:

  • Enhancing microbial soil life
  • Minimizing the use of chemical fertilizer
  • Promoting bio-diversity

Harvesting commences ten months after planting. Neofresh applies a strict Quality Control System to ensure that all products are handled and packed to the clients’ detailed specifications.

Fruit is harvested when it starts to show yellow colouration. All our products are picked by hand by employees from the surrounding communities.



Papaya picking is done in teams. Each papaya is selected for its correct ripeness by the picker who then carefully passes it onto a receiver who places it into a lug. Lugs are placed in the shade for collection and transportation to the packhouse. To eliminate the necessity of pickers having to climb ladders to pick the fruit higher up in the tree, new innovations such as picking poles (trade named PICK IT) and automated picking trailers are being evaluated. Fruit is carefully placed in lugs containing aero theme sheets, preventing mechanical damage.

At the pack house fruit is sanitized, packed in plastic lugs and placed in ripening rooms. Ethylene is used for ripening. The fruit produces ethylene naturally. By adding a little extra we ensure even ripening and enable us to forecast shelf-life accurately. Fruit is then pre-packed into punnets. The wrapping used in punnets enhances shelf-life. All labelling happens before it is transported to the supermarket distribution centres.

Strict cold-chain maintenance is very important to ensure shelf life.

Neofresh makes daily deliveries to distribution centres in Gauteng, Cape Town and Durban as well as to Municipal Markets. Neofresh also supplies overseas clients via air freight from Oliver Tambo Airport in Johannesburg. Neofresh has developed protocols to enable us to also sea-freight papaya.

Traceability of fruit is crucial in our business. We are therefore able to trace a fruit to a specific irrigation block on the farm.

Papaya Breeding Program

We are really passionate about our fruit, but especially about Papaya.

Dr Aart Louw, an internationally renowned Papaya breeder, is in charge of our Papaya Breeding Program. The Head of our Research & Development Department is Gerrit Nieuwoudt. His department functions on a multi-disciplinary level, handling anything from breeding, pest & disease control, general horticulture as well as post-harvest treatment.  Gerrit has recently been instrumental in finetuning a protocol to enable us to sea-freight papaya to destinations as far as Europe.   Papaya is a tropical crop that is grown under subtropical conditions in South Africa. A great deal of emphasis is therefore placed on breeding cold tolerant lines. Resistance to soil-borne diseases like Pythium and Phytophtera, is also of paramount importance. As we need to guarantee good eating quality by a certain sell-by date, shelf-life is a determining factor when selecting genetic material. Taste, however, is by far the most important characteristic we pursue. The R&D team regularly invites Neofresh staff to participate in blind tasting sessions. Needless to say, this is an exercise which is eagerly awaited! We truly live and EAT our passion: papaya litchi, mango, lemons, blueberries, macadamia, ginger…actually any tropical or sub-tropical fruit! For a number of years genetic material has been sourced from all over the world. Careful cross breeding has so far resulted in three different lines being introduced commercially:


Papino ®

  • Firm flesh
  • Red flesh
  • Smooth skin
  • Long shelf-life
  • Sweet taste

Neo-Pino ®

  • Smaller fruit
  • Red flesh
  • Softer flesh
  • Sweet taste

Neo-Essence ®

  • Extremely sweet
  • Red flesh
  • Soft aromatic flesh
  • “Baby” of our breeding program