Pineapple prices have now returned to more normal levels after experiencing great highs in the past month. A period of short supply is to blame for the tight market. Prices rose as high as $25 a box. "I can't recall seeing prices that high before," said Wes Liefer of California-based Pura Vida Farms. "We have now passed through that period of short supply and high prices."
The effect of the extremely high prices has been the slowdown in demand. Movement is very slow now and the market has been described as "quiet". Prices have now stabilized and the expectation is for demand to pick up soon again. "There is not a lot of action in the market," Liefer observed. "Prices are currently at $12 - $15 and with more volume set to come, we are hoping they will stabilize between $10 - $11."
What caused the short supply?
Growers say this shortage occurs each year during the summer. In the month of May, pineapples in Costa Rica undergo a natural bloom, causing the number of ripe pineapples to substantially increase. They are then harvested, resulting in strong volumes entering the market. However, this creates a temporary lull in production as growers await mature fruit once more.
"This is called the NDF period - or Naturally Differentiated Flowering, and it happens each year to all the growers," Liefer explained. "This causes there to be a lot of fruit in June, followed by a period of less fruit. This year it was particularly pronounced. Add in the fact that the rainy season is yet to cease, and we had the short supply."
Reports are that the rainy season has also brought plenty of rain to the region, but the dry season is expected to begin in about a month's time, and volume is already steadily increasing.
Hope for a stable market for next few months
Now that the market has returned to more typical prices, suppliers are hoping they will remain at close to the current levels. Last year, prices dipped below $10 in early fall during a period of heavier volume, a level which Liefer says is unsustainable for the entire supply chain.
"We are hoping the market stays steady and does not reach as low as $8 like it did last year," he said. "Nobody makes any money at those prices - growers, shippers, or retailers. The market at the current prices is enough to provide an all-round balance."