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Costa Rica dominates pineapple market

The global trade in (fresh) pineapple is dominated by Costa Rica. Two out of three pineapples traded internationally come from Costa Rica. Half of all Costa Rican pineapples is sent to the US, the other half is mostly sent to the EU. Costa Rica has a share of 85 per cent in the US. Of all pineapple imported by the EU, 85 per cent comes from Costa Rica as well. The Costa Rican product hardly plays a part on the Asian market. The Philippines is dominant on this market, but the internationally traded amounts are clearly smaller in proportion. African countries play a very modest part in the international trade of pineapple.

After the US, the Netherlands is the second importer globally. The Dutch market is also dominated by import from Costa Rica. Last year this concerned 86 per cent of the total. The majority of the Dutch import is re-exported, for that matter.

Market for pineapple growing globally
Globally, both the production and the export of pineapple still increases every year. In ten years, the production increased from 20 to more than 25 million tonnes. About ten million tonnes of pineapple is produced both in South and East Asia and in the US, and more than four million tonnes is produced in Africa. Costa Rica is the most important producer globally as well, although Brazil and the Philippines produce practically the same amount of pineapple. India, Thailand, Nigeria, China and Indonesia are the other major production countries.

The worldwide (net) export has increased by 40 per cent in the past 10 years, from 2.3 to 3.3 million tonnes. About 15 percent of the total production is traded internationally. The value of the international trade in fresh pineapple amounts to about 2 billion dollar. Pineapple isn’t just traded as a fresh product, but also tinned, frozen and as juice. The international trade in tinned goods amounts to 1.2 million and is valued at 1.3 billion dollar. More than 800,000 tonnes is traded in juice every year (both singular and concentrated), and amounts to a value of 750 million dollar.

Pineapple is also traded frozen. Last year, Costa Rica exported 40,000 tonnes. Half of this export was focused on the US. Belgium, Canada and the Netherlands were the next buyers with amounts of 4,600, 2,900 and 2,400 tonnes, respectively. Other suppliers of frozen pineapple are the Philippines, Guatemala, Mexico, Colombia and Chile. All combined, the international trade in pineapple products has a value of more than 4 billion dollar, 1.1 billion of which is realised by Costa Rica. Thailand and the Philippines are the other major producers, with an export value of 0.7 and 0.6 billion dollar respectively.

Quarter of EU market via the Netherlands
A quarter of the pineapple import in the EU is done via the Netherlands. In total, 940,000 tonnes of pineapple were imported in the EU last year. The Netherlands imported 285,000 tonnes, nearly 250,000 tonnes of which were primarily re-exported to other countries in the EU. About 60,000 tonnes of this were co-called transit goods: product that was imported via the Netherlands but remained the property of foreign companies. The import in the Netherlands mostly comes from Costa Rica, about 245,000 tonnes. Smaller amounts come from Panama (5,100 tonnes), Ivory Coast (3,200 tonnes), Ecuador (2,700 tonnes), Honduras (2,400 tonnes), Colombia (1,400 tonnes) and Ghana (500 tonnes). A total of 21,000 tonnes were imported by other countries in the EU. The re-export was mostly focused on Germany, that is to say nearly 100,000 tonnes. France, Belgium, Italy, Ireland and Poland were other buyers of note, although these followed at a distance.

Record import this year?
The import in the Netherlands in 2017 wasn’t that different from the two previous years with 245,000 tonnes. From 2012 to 2014, import was higher with a peak of 340,000 tonnes in 2014. In the first half of this year, as much as a quarter more was imported compared to the first half of 2017. If this trend continues in the second half of the year, it could result in a record import in the Netherlands. The trend is naturally decided by import from Costa Rica.

Large supply, low prices
Costa Rica doesn’t just export more to the EU this year, but also to other buyers. In the US, the import of pineapple from Costa Rica was nearly 15 per cent higher in the first seven months of this year than in that same period in 2017. The larger supply of Costa Rican pineapple resulted in (cif) import prices more than 10 per cent lower in the Netherlands in the first seven months of this year compared to the same period last year; this year it was 0.69 euro per kilo and last year it was 0.79 euro per kilo in the January-July period in 2017. Costa Rica is gradually also selling more pineapple elsewhere. Last year, 44,000 tonnes were sold in Asian countries, 36,000 tonnes were sold in Russia and 32,000 tonnes in the rest of America. These are still small amounts, because 95 per cent of the Costa Rican pineapple is sent to the US and the EU.

Philippines mostly sell in their own region
Far behind Costa Rica, the Philippines comes second as exporter of (fresh) pineapple globally. The export from this country has fluctuated considerably in recent years. In 2015, only 267,000 tonnes were exported from this country, while they exported as much as 556,000 tonnes in 2016. In 2017, export amounted to 500,000 tonnes. In the first half of this year, export fell again compared to that same period last year. Pineapple from the Philippines is mostly sent to countries in that region. Japan is the most important buyer, and Korea and China come second and third. Combined, these three countries are good for three-quarters of the total. The Philippines also exports significant amounts to the Gulf states.

Smaller exporters found in Latin America and Africa
Brazil, the third superpower regarding the production of pineapples, is hardly active on foreign markets. A number of other countries, however, do export (fresh) pineapple.

In 2017, Ecuador was good for 85,000 tonnes, and their most important buyers were Chile, the UK, Belgium, Argentina and Germany. In 2017, Honduras exported 60,000 tonnes of pineapple, practically all of which was sent to the US. Guatemala was good for an export of 40,000 tonnes in 2017, 27,000 tonnes of which was shipped to the US, while 12,000 tonnes were exported to El Salvador.

In 2017, Panama exported 30,000 tonnes. This was considerably lower than the 93,000 tonnes the country exported in 2013. The Netherlands, the US and Turkey were the most important buyers. Ivory Coast and Ghana are the two most important African exporters of pineapple. Last year, both were good for an export around 30,000 tonnes. France and Belgium are the most important buyers for both countries.

For more information:
Jan Kees Boon
Fruit and Vegetable Facts 

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