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Ecuador exports 32% of its pineapples to Chile

In the last 9 years the pineapple trade has had its ups and downs. Its high was in 2009, when it reached $ 44 million and 100,000 tons, according to figures from the Institute for the Promotion of Exports and Investments (ProEcuador).

A subsequent fall in 2010 due to low international prices caused producers to migrate to other crops, which were more profitable, such as maize and palm.   

"The fruit requires more dedication in labor and is a very technical crop, it is necessary to invest a lot to produce a pineapple," said Roberto Castillo, president of the Association of Pineapple Producers of Ecuador (Asopiña).

The situation began to change in 2012, when the Ecuadorian product was exported to Chile. Now, according to ProEcuador, that country is the main destination for the fruit, which accounted for 32% of total sales last year.

One of the advantages is the shipping cost, which is much lower than from the United States and Europe. From there began the sector's growth. The Institute reported that in 2016 there was growth in both FOB and tons (t) of 17.23% and 11.98%, respectively.

In 2015 66,000 t of the product was exported, while in 2016 this figure rose to 74,000 t. It's difficult to have a growth forecast for this year, said the leader of Asopiña. In spite of that an increase of approximately 3% is contemplated. Fruit production is constant throughout the year. Expectations coincide with ProEcuador's data. 

The second export destination is Belgium, where 17.74% is sent, followed by Argentina with 12.13%, Germany with 11.36% and the United Kingdom with 7.78%. These 5 countries make up 80% of pineapple exports to the world.

The rest is distributed in other markets such as the United States, Italy, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Uruguay and 10 other places where participation is lower.

One of the peculiarities is that the United States stopped being one of the main destinations. This is attributed to the proximity of Costa Rica, which can transport their fruit for a dollar per box less.

The technical manager of the San Francisco producer and exporter, Fernando Mendieta, indicated that in their company they export 70% of their production and 30% remains in the local markets.

In San Francisco's case, Argentina and Uruguay, are important markets, although Chile remains the main point of arrival.

The problem of transportation is what makes the Ecuadorian pineapple less competitive in the USA. They market at $ 7.50 a tray, which is the best price and the lowest, can be $ 2. Whereas a box of 22 kilos to Chile has a cost of between $ 10 and $ 14.

In the country there are 3,000 hectares of production. 80% is exported and 20% is for domestic consumption, which because of the proximity to the production area, which is Santo Domingo, is distributed mainly in the central and northern Sierra.

There are 12 producers and exporters that are grouped in Asopiña. Castillo expressed that the fruit is popular because it is sweeter and has a lower acidity, in addition its color and fragrance are more pronounced, which means that it is superior to the local pineapple's quality, and is consumed regularly in the country, especially on the coast.

The pineapple variety exported is originally from Hawaii. The leader of Asopiña explained that the cultivation of this fruit in general has a particularity: it must be cut ripe, because otherwise it is lost. 

This is a limitation of the fruit's handling time. From harvest to the shipment there are around 18 to 20 days, which limits its handling.

Among the exporters' expectations is to have a greater presence in the markets of Argentina and Uruguay. Castillo said that Australia and New Zealand are also highly anticipated. "In fact in the latter's case it is already exported in smaller quantities". 

China is one of their aspirations. "We are working with Agrocalidad". In this case, Castillo detailed that there are already banana exporters who send their production to that country. "The expectation is to see how the shipping offer develops in the coming years, and analyze if there is the possibility of hiring a special and fast service to send quality fruit." 


Publication date: 9/25/2017


 


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