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The pineapple market is in turmoil. Due to a much lower production in Costa Rica, prices in Europe and the United States have gone through the roof. In all these markets, sharply higher prices have been reported. In some cases, they have even doubled. Nevertheless, the market remains good. There is more than sufficient demand for the small volume of pineapples available. In Latin America, many countries see the potential of this good market situation. Mexico, Panama, Peru, the Dominican Republic and Colombia have all invested in pineapple cultivation and the existing producers are profiting from the high prices. This situation will continue for several weeks.

Mexico wants to increase its exports
Unlike countries such as Costa Rica and Panama, Mexico is not really known for its pineapple exports. Still, there are companies who are devoting their resources to the export of this fruit. According to traders, Mexican pineapples stand out for their "flavour and juiciness." An exporter, selling 30% of the production across the border, explains that they wish to increase the number of markets. Their fruit is currently exported to Spain, the United States and South Korea.
Pineapples can be grown all year round in Mexico. During the rainy season, from May to August, there can be changes in the calibre. In late August, there was a deficit in the pineapple market that drove prices up. Starting this month, more Mexican pineapples are expected to hit the market.

Colombian sector continues to grow
In recent years, Colombia's pineapple production has doubled. The most commonly grown variety is the MD2. A grower with 650 hectares and a production totalling 23,000 tonnes this year explains that half of that fruit has gone to the domestic market, while the other half has been set aside for export. Further growth is expected for next year. In southern Colombia, many lands are suitable for the cultivation of Golden pineapple. The north and south of the Cauca valley also have a good climate for its cultivation.

More Peruvian pineapples for the world
Peru's total production stands at around 450,000 tonnes. The majority, 70%, is grown in the Junin region. A Peruvian cooperative has shipped its first pineapples to Spain. It expects to export 120 tonnes, while its total sales should amount to 500 tonnes. They are also looking into the possibility of growing pineapples organically.

Dominican Republic invests in cultivation
By the end of this year, pineapple exports may amount to 9,000 tonnes, according to the first estimates. Before 2012, pineapples were a minor sector on the island; the yields were poor, with high production costs and low quality. Since then, more investments have gone into pineapple growing and the market may reach a value of $7 million this year.

Costa Rican shortage continues
The world's largest pineapple producer is currently facing a lower production. Prospects point to production returning to its old level in three weeks. From that moment, there should be enough supply to cover the needs of the US and European markets. The shortfall in production has a natural cause. The heavy rain recorded last year has been one of the main factors.

Despite the high prices, a Costa Rican trader says he is not afraid of the possibility of Europe looking for alternative markets. The quality of the Costa Rican pineapple, according to him, is superior. Pineapples will remain available in smaller sizes until week 20. Those smaller calibres are popular in markets such as Eastern Europe and Turkey.

In addition to the circumstances affecting production, there is currently a legal battle between Fresh Del Monte and Inprotsa in the country. The case is about the variety MD-2, also known as Golden, and the rights to cultivate it. Fresh Del Monte has claimed ownership over the breed, which would force Inprotsa to give it up. Inprotsa believes it is not infringing Fresh Del Monte's proprietary rights.

Panama benefits from Costa Rican deficit
In the months of August and September, when Costa Rica has its lowest production, that of Panama reaches its peak. Panamanian growers consequently benefit from the high prices on the European market due to the shortage of Costa Rican pineapples. One grower says he is assured of having positive prospects for the season, because the prices are good and the markets in Europe and the US are insatiable. Furthermore, the sector is looking for new markets, including Canada, South Korea and Japan.

High prices in Israel
Pineapples remain one of the most expensive fruits in Israel. The rates are still substantially the same as those recorded two years ago. A medium sized pineapple can cost up to 8.50 Euro in a supermarket. Throughout the year, prices fluctuate between 4.50 and 9 Euro per item.

Israel has about 30 growers with 120 hectares devoted to the cultivation of pineapples. These growers are mainly found in the central coast region and supply the bulk of the pineapples on the domestic market. Every year, about 3,000 tonnes are harvested. Moreover, the country imports about 500 tonnes. Due to the difficult growing conditions, few producers are expanding the acreage, despite the high prices obtained for the fruit.

On top of that, there are few efforts to increase imports. The main reason for this is the fear of unwittingly bringing in a pineapple disease that can affect the crops. The bulk of the imports come from South Africa and Guatemala. There have recently been some discussions about the possibility of importing from Thailand and the Philippines, but the negotiations came to a halt in the inspection phase. In short: Israel has a shortage of pineapples which results in high prices and it doesn't look like this will change in the near future.

Danish prices bring market to standstill
Due to the high prices, sales in the Danish market have cooled down. There is hardly a pineapple market at all at this time. The few traders with pineapples are getting good prices for the fruit. The fruit usually arrives via Dutch importers. While prices at this time of the year usually stand at around 8 Euro per box, they have currently increased to 14 to 16 Euro per box. The prices for organic pineapples have also risen sharply and are 20% higher than those for conventional pineapples. An importer says that the prices are too high to sell pineapples. He hopes that the start of the new season in a few weeks will change this.

Dutch trade runs smoothly
This year's pineapple market is marked by high prices. "During no more than four weeks, prices fell a little, but otherwise they have been incredibly high. At the moment, the fruit, depending on quality and size, is sold for between 15 and 17 Euro, which is unprecedented," explains the trader. The supply has been significantly reduced because of the rainy season last year and the impact has been bigger than anyone had anticipated.

According to the importer, these high prices are not an obstacle for smooth sales. "Everything that is made available outside of the programs is literally grabbed out of our hands. I expect this tight supply to continue for a week or two. Then there will be more fruit and the pressure on prices should be reduced, although for now there is not yet any certainly in this regard. We expect a good September. After a year like this, it is also good to know that the production in 2017 should go back to normal and that a normal balance between supply and prices will be restored.

Good market in Belgium
Just like in the Netherlands, pineapple prices are good in Belgium. They are quite high, ranging from 13 to 16 Euro. Starting next week, they expect higher volumes and prices are thus expected to fall.

High prices in Italy
The Italian market has also been almost dry in recent months. The lower availability has resulted in very high prices. Moreover, there has been a diversification of suppliers. Traders are particularly interested in volume, quality and stability.

At present there are pineapples from Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic available. There are also small volumes from Peru and Colombia. Peruvian pineapples are mostly intended for the hospitality industry. These pineapples are usually large, while the Italian market demands smaller calibres. Until Christmas, an interesting situation is expected on the market. The demand for pineapples is on the rise. The Italians have embraced the tropical fruit thanks to its year-round availability.

The prices at various wholesale markets:
- Turin: Gold pineapple, 40X60 (7 units) single layer packed, l.v.h. Costa Rica: 1.50 Euro/kg (EUR 1.85/ kg for Del Monte).
- Verona: Pineapple from Costa Rica, 7 or 8 pieces per box 1.75-1.90 Euro/kg.
- Rome: Gold pineapple, 40X60 (7 units) single layer packed, l.v.h. Costa Rica: 1.50 Euro/kg (EUR 1.70/kg for Del Monte).

Prices have doubled in the US
In recent times, the supply from Mexico has mainly consisted of larger calibres. The shortage of small pineapples has pushed prices up. Also, the supply from Costa Rica is lower, which has given prices a further boost. On 8 September, prices for a box of eight Mexican pineapples oscillated between 9 and 11 dollars. Prices for a box of 5 or 6 pieces stood between 11 and 13 dollars. If the supply is normal, prices are often around $6 per box. Costa Rica is the largest supplier of pineapples. The supply from this country determines the situation on the market. Normally, demand peaks around Easter, after which it flattens as the summer develops and turns into autumn. During the rest of the year, the demand may well record some small increases.

Every week, FreshPlaza and publish an overview of the market situation of a product in a global context. With these articles we aim to provide a view of a global market shrinking due to globalisation. Next week, sweet potatoes will be in the spotlight.

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