Shoppers are buying higher volumes of product than usual, and images of empty shelves in almost every grocery store are pervading the media. A trend noticed by many is that shoppers are flocking toward produce items because of their health benefits during this crisis.
Chestnut Hill Farms grows pineapples in Costa Rica is an importer and distributor in the United States and in Europe. Adriana Garcia, the company’s Director of International sales says: “Everything in Costa Rica is still working. There are not enough cases there yet to have an impact on the industry. The schools did close, but farms continue to operate. Our farms in Costa Rica have implemented a robust protocol to ensure our workers stay healthy. The planting and harvesting are continuing on and staying on schedule.”
High retail demand
While this is good news, there are of course some challenges during this time. “The demand side of the industry is an issue right now. People are stocking up on their groceries and the demand from the retailers to keep up with these new purchasing habits is really high. Both in the US and in Europe retailers are seeing empty shelves,” Garcia shares.
The closing of schools and restaurants means that orders from food service companies are being cancelled, however, the lower demand from foodservice isn’t enough to compensate for the higher demand from the retailers. Garcia says: “Even with the lower demand from the foodservice, the retailer demand is so high that the overall demand is higher than it usually is. It is too high for us to meet.”
Another challenge is that of logistics. Due to the quarantines and border closures as safety precautions, there are fewer containers available. “There are a lot of containers that are stuck in other ports, so it has been a challenge to ship the product,” Garcia explains. Fortunately, the shortage hasn’t affected shipping prices.
Cost Rica produces pineapples year-round, though the season does have a peak in May and June. “Right now, we are still weeks away from the peak, and so we do expect the prices to go up in the market due to this imbalance between the supply and the demand,” Garcia says.