According to data provided by the National Chamber of Pineapple Producers and Exporters of Costa Rica (Canapep), the high production costs and a downward trend in the fruit's international price have led to a reduction of the area devoted to the cultivation of pineapples to 5,000 hectares, which would generate a loss of at least 2,500 direct jobs in this sector at the end of the year.
Abel Chaves, the president of Canapep, said that by 2021 there is a risk that the 44,500 hectares registered at the beginning of the year at the national level will fall to 38,000. This would subtract some 1,000 additional jobs associated with this sector, which currently offers about 32,000 direct jobs and more than 100,000 indirect jobs, in the next three years.
This decrease would also have a strong impact on the national economy since, in the month of May, the country exported 20 million boxes less than in May of 2018, which represents a 12% reduction in the export volume.
According to data from Procomer, Costa Rica exported more than 1.011 million dollars in pineapple and derived products last year.
According to the president of Canapep, the decrease in production is due to a drop in the international price of this fruit caused by the competition in the pineapple market by countries such as Colombia, Ecuador, and Panama, among others, which have earned the trust of European and American importers.
The loss of competitiveness in the international market, according to Chaves, has several causes. The first of these is the high cost represented by the APM Terminals company fees, which increased by 400% since the company started operations.
The second reason is the high costs of electricity in the country, especially because of the high consumption that this fruit requires to be exported. "All the fruit has to go through a process of lowering its temperature and traveling in containers, at an average temperature of 7° C, to meet the requirements of importers," he stated.
Third, the president demands a drop in fuel prices, which, in his opinion, "are the most expensive fuels in Latin America."
According to Abel Chaves, if the State does not make this operation more competitive, the pineapple could cease to be one of Costa Rica's main export products.