Difficult market for pineapple growers in Mexico
Pineapple growers in Mexico are enjoying good growing conditions which is producing decent yields and good quality fruit. The weather has been favorable in recent months and growers are pleased with their crop. The problem for them is that they are facing a difficult market due to a lot of fruit coming out of Costa Rica.
"We grow our pineapples year round in Mexico," said Ernesto Maurer of Tabafresh Farms. "The growing region is in the state of Tabasco, close to the Gulf side. Growing conditions have been good in recent months. There was a bit of rain at the end of October, but it did not really cause any problems. Quality is high and our volume is also good, close to average for this time of year. The type of pineapple we grow is the MD2, which makes up the majority of the pineapples that are grown and shipped to the United States. This pineapple is the best variety for the US market, as it has a lower translucency, higher BRIX level - meaning it is sweeter, and also enjoys a good shelf life, which is ideal for shipping."
Abundance of Costa Rican pineapples
Although Mexico growers are pleased with the quality of their pineapples, they are facing low prices for their produce. This is due to an abundance of pineapples coming out of Costa Rica, creating a difficult market. Costa Rica is the dominant producer of pineapples in the region, and growers from other regions are at the mercy of the ups and downs of Costa Rican production.
"There is a lot of fruit coming out of Costa Rica and prices are very low at the moment," Maurer said. "Costa Rica is the biggest player in the pineapple market and so the price is very much dependant on the volume coming out of the country. Mexico is not really that big, typically averaging between 30 and 40 loads per week. As an example, in terms of shipments to the United States, Mexico shipped 27 loads in the last week, while Costa Rica shipped 890. Our volume is currently lower than usual because the market is not as good as we need it to be; we are only sending enough loads to cover commitments with our customers."
"With all the Costa Rican fruit, the market is complicated and has been since the two Hurricanes that hit Texas and Florida a few months ago," he noted. "Costa Rica ship the bulk of their fruit to the ports of Miami, Houston, Philadelphia and Long Beach in California. As both Houston and Miami were affected by the hurricanes, this may have upset the balance of where the fruit was shipped to. At the moment, there is nothing Mexican growers can do other than to sell what we have and hope for a better market soon."
Banking on shorter shipping times
Tabafresh Farms are confident of a return to stronger pineapple prices. They feel they have an advantage in the market in Mexico thanks to the shorter shipment times to US markets, allowing enhanced logistical flexibility and a fresher product.
"At Tabafresh Farms we know that even when the market is complicated we rely on a very solid infrastructure, modern technology and our amazing team to continue to thrive when prices are low," Maurer said. "With pineapples and produce in general, there are good and bad days and our challenge is to withstand a difficult market because we are a company completely committed to our American market. Mexican pineapple may not have the same volume as pineapple from Costa Rica but everyday our presence is becoming stronger and more important in the pineapple market; our pineapples are a great option and are always fresh; with only two days of travel time from Tabasco our pineapples are in great shape internally and externally when they arrive."
New facilities for growth plans
The company is planning to double production next year and are building a new distribution center in Texas to accommodate their growth plans.
"We know the market will get better and at Tabafresh Farms our goal is to double production for our 2018-2019 season," Maurer continued. "This increase will allow us to offer our customers better volume. We have started to work with customers who mainly buy pineapple from Costa Rica and thanks to the great quality we offer and the solid volume we have become a great option for them. We are building our new, state of the art distribution center located in Pharr, TX. The warehouse will have ethylene filters, push back racks, automatic doors, controlled humidity, lab area, docks especially designed to preserve the cold distribution chain, all of this managed by our customized computer program controlled by professionals focused on providing the best service to our customers.
"At Tabafresh Farms we know our production, administrative, sales and logistics team set us apart from other companies," he concluded. "We are slowly growing and we know we will achieve great things. Having year round pineapples helps us assure our customers they will always have great quality pineapples from Tabafresh Farms due to our certified fields, packing and warehouses."
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Publication date: 11/30/2017
Author: Dennis M. Rettke
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