The new year has started off with limited supplies, high demand and high prices on the pineapple market. The holidays saw a big increase in volumes shipped, and now that the holidays have passed, the current volumes have decreased a bit. Adriana Garcia of Chestnut Hill Farms, who grow their pineapples in Costa Rica and ship them throughout the US and Europe, says: “Retailers in Europe increase their volume by 300% around the Christmas weeks. The volumes we sent were shipped to the different destinations in a very organized way and therefore we are starting the year with limited supply and high market prices.”
Rain in Costa Rica slightly affects supplies
In addition to the effect of the holiday season on the current supplies, the weather in Costa Rica has also had an impact. Garcia explains: “While the total precipitation remains stable, the rain is slowing the maturation process and therefore the volumes have been slightly lower than expected these past weeks. We are also having cold nights and intervals of overcast skies, which is actually typical for this time of year.”
The forecast predicts another cold front, and Chestnut Hill Farms is planning on conducting intensive field sampling to determine the effects of these climatic conditions on natural flowering. “Despite the weather, the fruit quality continues to be very good and we are seeing an average brix of over 14% on our farms,” says Garcia.
Reflecting on 2020 and expectations for 2021
With the new year underway, Chestnut Hill Farms reflects on how the overall market was for them in 2020. Garcia says: “2020 was a very good year, and supply and demand were mostly balanced. While we did face some important logistical challenges due to the pandemic, the overall demand remained consistent. The demand from foodservice reduced, but the retail demand increase.”
The overall volumes exported by Costa Rica in 2020 were down 7% from 2019, and down 14% from 2018. “This trend will continue into 2021, and therefore we expect a very stable market,” says Garcia, adding: “Several retailers, both in Europe and in the US, are planning to implement marketing strategies to continue selling the volumes sold during the pandemic when consumers were spending more on groceries and healthy food.”
Garcia expects that the demand and pricing will continue to stay up, at least until the summer season. “Trucks have been in short supply, particularly in the US and the UK, which has been causing supply chain pressure. This was mostly due to both holiday demand and Covid restrictions. The current reduced supply, in combination with the many holidays coming up in the coming months, like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Easter, should keep demand and prices mostly up until the summer months,” she concludes.