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Chinese demand for Costa Rican bananas and pineapples is soaring

Trial shipment of Costa Rican pineapples to China starts on 23 September

Costa Rica received authorization to ship bananas to China in 2008, and a few years ago, pineapples also gained authorization, which opened a new market for local fruit traders. “We received great feedback from the market. With soaring demand for imported products, we want more Chinese customers to get to know the superior quality and taste of Costa Rican fruits,” Mr. Jose, the trade commissioner between Costa Rica and China, and the director of Procomer said.

The majority of Costa Rican pineapples are delivered to Europe and North America, while small quantities are delivered to other regions such as Russia and the Middle East. “We see a big potential in the Chinese market. The MD2 Yanbet variety is in high demand and people like them very much. At the moment, most of the imported pineapples in the Chinese market are from the Philippines and Taiwan. So far, we do not have many orders to cover the entire market, but there is definitely a space for us.”

According to Mr. Jose, the biggest obstacle for exporting pineapples from Costa Rica to China is logistics. “This is not about the great distance, the real problem is with the poor offers from shipping companies. Currently, the offer they made us includes multiple transit stops. This makes the shipment time form Caldera port to Shanghai port extra-long, more than 30 days. When taking custom clearance time into account, in total at least 35 days are needed before our products arrive. This schedule is not workable for us with regards to product shelf life. We have to control the shipment time within 22 days in order to guarantee the products’ freshness and quality.” Mr. Jose said.

The good news is that the Costa Rican trade commission is working closely with the Chinese government and with alternative shipping companies for a solution. Mr. Jose has mentioned an interesting trial shipment project, “On 23 September, we are going to start a trial shipment with 1-2 containers of pineapples to a few Chinese companies. The idea of this trial is to see how we can improve the current situation by reduced transit times.”

According to Mr. Jose, Costa Rica has a very good reputation in the banana market. The total export value of Costa Rican bananas reached almost 1 billion USD in 2018. Most of the products are delivered to Europe and North America.

“As for the Chinese market, the country itself is very strong in banana production and Chinese importers used to buy a large volume of bananas from Ecuador as well as from their own neighborhood, the Philippines. Therefore, competition is quite intensive for us. Price-wise, we do not have many advantages compared with other countries. But Costa Rican bananas are of superior quality and this gives us a very good reputation among our overseas customers. At the moment, many countries are struggling with the Panama disease in their banana plantation fields. Fortunately, Costa Rica is not affected and this is a good time for us to bring our bananas to China.” Mr. Jose said.

2017 was the first year Costa Rica started to export bananas to China. Local suppliers received great feedback from the market after trial shipment. According to Mr. Jose, “The export value greatly increased from 700,000 USD in 2017 to 4.5 million USD last year. This year, we've already exported 5.7 million USD worth of bananas to China in the period until June alone. I hope this year the total export value to China can reach 10 million USD. Perhaps this does not seem to be a very impressive amount, but it shows the growth of Chinese consumption of Costa Rican bananas and hints at the Chinese market potential.”

“Besides bananas and pineapples, Costa Rican melons will be added to the list soon. Lemons and some types of frozen products including cassava, yam, malanga and pumpkin are also allowed to be exported. During Asia Fruit Logistica, Costa Rica's pavilion received a good number of quality visitors. We met many new importers and retailers at the exhibition, and we are excited to see many more customers get to know our superior products.” said Mr. Jose.

For more information:
Mr José Pablo Rodríguez Cordero
Tel: +86 02161037298

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