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Israel, an attractive market but with transportation challenges for Costa Rica's fresh pineapple

Last February, Costa Rica and Israel signed a bilateral agreement that enabled plants in several areas of the country (excluding the Atlantic) to ship shipments of fresh pineapple. So far no shipment has been made because the companies still can't comply with some requirements included in the agreement. However, they expected to do so in the second half of the year. "If everything goes as expected, companies could meet the requirements and start exporting between August and September of this year," stated Erick Cedeño, of the Phytosanitary Certification department of the Costa Rican Phytosanitary Service (SFE).

Israel is not a new market for the agricultural exporting sector. According to Procomer data, that country is the second export market for Costa Rica in the Middle East, and in 2021 exports to this destination totaled $11 million (96% of which corresponded to the agri-food sector).

In fact, a recent study by the Promoter on the Israeli market indicates that Costa Rica maintains a high positioning, which could be exploited by exporters of fresh pineapple. According to the investigation, the Israeli market is characterized by limited local production (5,000 tons in 2021) and a high concentration of imports (73%) in a single supplier that is the Dominican Republic. Due to the low supply of this fruit in the market, combined with the high level of intermediation, the consumer price is high ($11 per kilogram on average). However, as the study itself points out, one of the main challenges for pineapple producers is the limited logistical offer for shipping the fruit by sea.

According to the study, even though there are options for connections or transshipment ports, the transit times of the fruit increase significantly. For example, the connection from Algeciras (Spain) to Israel is not immediate and may take another seven or eight days of transit time; this would have a daily storage cost of up to $142; there is also the possibility of using connections in other parts of Europe, but there is a high risk that the container will not achieve the connection.

That's why air shipments are so attractive. "Despite the higher cost of air shipments, it does not represent a novelty for importers, since it is the means used by the current supplier (Dominican Republic) and there is no greater difference in costs between the two countries," the study stressed.



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