Wolter van der Kooij and Coen Bos of Fyffes during the PMA
Why has the pineapple market been so good this year?
The good market originates from a lower volume - caused by the bad weather conditions in recent years - and the demand from the juice industry. Normally a grower sells the fruit that doesn't meet the export specifications - usually around 15% of the volume - locally to the juice industry that processes it as juice or IQF fruit. In recent years the price for this fruit has gone up hugely, partially because Thailand produces less. This had benefited the price for the juice fruit. Many growers now opt to sell part of the pineapple, which would normally be export, to the juice industry. This offers various advantages. Growers don't need all kind of certificates, won't receive claims and receive their money in a week. This has all led to a situation where, when the prices in the export markets reach below a certain level, the producers sell more fruit to the juicing industry. The advantages of a good juice market is that companies aren't forced to sell their product on the export market, which causes a better and more stable market in both Europe and the US.
Are there growers that focus purely on the juice industry with large sizes of pineapple?
There are growers who focus purely on amounts. The production costs for this are lower because certain costs drop off, for instance those for a packaging station and staff. You do need to produce more tonnes per hectare compared to fruit for export, otherwise there is no point.
Who will foresee the Asian market on the long term?
The question is whether the Philippines will be able to produce enough in the long term to foresee the Asian market. The Central American pineapples may be a good addition to this market.
This could cause a huge price revival on the pineapple market couldn't it?
I don't think it will be that severe. Costa Rica is estimated to produce 160/170 million boxes of pineapple, but the banana prices are under pressure and growers can choose to turn banana land into pineapple production. Pineapple has a limited, short cultivation cycle of around 14 months, so there can be large fluctuations in prices from one year to the next.
Are there many alternatives?
You can see Colombia, among others, trying to hitch a ride. They have had two good years and this makes people optimistic. The country has more than enough land available and the necessary projects have been started in the north and west of Colombia. The producers will have to make clear choices. With 45 million inhabitants, Colombia also has a large internal market. They will have to make a clear choice between their internal market or export. Export demands a stable supply in connection with programmes and logistics.