The global pineapple market is experiencing various dynamics across different regions. In the Netherlands, natural flowering in Costa Rica has resulted in larger volumes of pineapples being shipped to Europe, ensuring a plentiful supply until the end of June.
Pineapple prices remain stable and reasonable, signalling a shift from the past when price fluctuations were more common. In Germany, mid-range prices for pineapples sourced from Costa Rica are being maintained throughout the year, with consistent interest in the tropical fruit. However, in the United Kingdom, Peruvian pineapples are losing market share to Costa Rica due to increased supplies from the latter.
Meanwhile, in Italy, pineapple shortages are expected due to low profitability for producers, leading to a decrease in planting. South Africa is experiencing a lack of coloured fruits, impacting sales and pushing prices up. On the other hand, China is facing strong demand and stable pricing, while in North America, pineapple pricing is currently strong but expected to stabilize in the near future.
Despite challenges such as cyber-attacks, container shortages, and supply chain disruptions, Costa Rica anticipates maintaining pineapple production levels in 2023. The effects of global factors, including the situation in Ukraine and fertiliser shortages, may influence production volumes in the second half of the year.
The Netherlands: More pineapples on the market due to natural flowering in Costa Rica
With the natural flowering going on in Costa Rica, larger volumes of pineapple are currently being shipped to Europe. "There will be plenty of pineapple on the market until the end of June. After that, there will traditionally be a dip in production and less pineapple will be shipped, but then there will also be enough other summer fruits on the market," expects a Dutch importer.
According to him, pineapple prices are still holding up well with an average level around 10.50-11 euros. "That is a very reasonable price. This year the pineapple market is showing a hugely stable line anyway. There are customers on the free market where we have been charging the same price for months. There used to be times when the price of pineapples would go up to 5 euros, but that hardly ever happens now. Back then, blind importing also used to happen more often, but due to the high costs, many casual importers have dropped out. It is no longer a throwaway item."
He says the relatively cold weather in north-western Europe does depress sales of crownless pineapples, which mostly find their way into fruit salads.
Germany: Mid-range level prices for pineapples from Costa Rica
A wholesaler from South Germany sources his pineapples from a trader based in Spain, who delivers them to Europe from Costa Rica by ship. The fruits are of top quality and are transported in wooden crates. There are probably more quantities available than he is able to sell on average. Despite the current circumstances affected by the weather, he has not heard of limited quantities so far. The price range is comparable to last year's and is on a rather mid-range level. The price can be maintained almost throughout the year. Although the earnings are rather low, pineapples are a product for which there is continuous interest.
The United Kingdom: Peruvian pineapples lose market share to Costa Rica
Peruvian pineapple exports to the United Kingdom have shown an upward growth in the last five years, with a notable boost in 2021, but this line was interrupted in 2022, when the results were lower compared to the previous year, according to a report by Tridge.
César Freund, Deputy Director of Intelligence and Commercial Foresight at Promperú, explained that in 2022 exports of this fruit showed a 7.6% drop due to specific factors. Among these, he cites that markets such as the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom began to supply themselves from Costa Rica, one of the largest pineapple producers in the world, which had a production peak. Added to this was the significant offer from other nations such as Honduras and Mexico, which began to compete for the same buyers.
In November 2022, Costa Rica (6.7K tons) was the main pineapple supplier to the UK, accounting for a 97% share of total imports. It was followed by Cote d'Ivoire (111 tons), with a 1.6% share of total imports. From January 2022 to November 2022, the average monthly growth rate of volume from Costa Rica stood at -1.9%. In value terms, Costa Rica ($4.5M) constituted the largest supplier of pineapple to the UK, comprising 95% of total imports. The second position in the ranking was held by Cote d'Ivoire ($68K), with a 1.4% share of total imports.
From January 2022 to November 2022, the average monthly growth rate of value from Costa Rica totalled -1.7%. The rise in price may be attributed to several factors, including changes in weather patterns affecting crop yields, increased demand for tropical fruits, and fluctuations in global supply and demand. Consumers can expect to see a slight increase in the prices of pineapples and pineapple products, including juices and canned fruits, in the coming months. However, industry experts do not expect this minor price hike to have a significant impact on sales or consumer behaviour. Pineapple remains a popular fruit in the UK market, known for its unique and refreshing flavour, versatility in cooking and baking, and many health benefits.
France: Abundant supply as summer fruit begins
During the first months of the year the French market for pineapple was good, with demand exceeding supply and prices remaining consistent.
But now the market has changed. With the arrival of the summer fruits the demand for pineapple is slightly lower. Because of the annual flowering period in Costa Rica, there are more volumes. And many foreign operators have just arrived on the market with very low prices, forcing operators who are present all year round to lower their prices, which impacts on sales.
Italy: Pineapple shortages expected
There are very few pineapples available, because very few have been planted in countries like Costa Rica. The reason? For several years, the prices paid to producers have been low, not matching the costs, and farmers are tired of not being able to make a profit. An importer from the north of Italy gives an overview of the situation: "In the coming weeks there will be a further shortage of pineapples, which will exacerbate the current situation. Now a 12 kg carton costs around €15.5-16 in bulk, for a high size product. And the weather conditions in the producing countries did not allow for very large pineapples."
The importer says that if pineapple prices, as well as many other fruit and vegetables, are not fair for the producers, there will be an increasing risk of not having any product.
"As far as pineapple is concerned," adds a wholesaler from Campania, "prices remain high considering the annual average and the presence of Italian seasonal fruit on the national market. The supply of pineapple is not able to meet the growing demand. At the moment, a medium-quality product is fetching a wholesale price of €1.30/kg, while high-end, plant-ripened pineapple does not sell for less than €2/kg. Perhaps the trend and availability of seasonal fruit also affects the pineapple price, keeping it high. The import of pineapple is proceeding slowly because volumes are limited; therefore with one shipload of pineapple it is difficult to guarantee the product for the whole week. If it works out well, you are out of stock for at least two or three days."
Exactly one third of Italian households have bought fresh pineapple in the last twelve months, according to GfK Consumer Panel data. The figure is updated to March 2023 and is in sharp decline if compared to the same period in 2021. Decline also for the canned fruit. Pineapple is particularly popular with two-person households, living in Southern Italy and with a medium-high social-economic profile.
South Africa: Lack of coloured fruits pushes prices up
Early cold and overcast weather in the pineapple production area of Hluhluwe in KwaZulu-Natal has slowed down ripening of pineapples. It is a transitional period when winter spec pineapples (with lower Brix and colour) come to the market.
There’s a little bit of an oversupply on the market, a trader at the Johannesburg fresh produce market remarks. He says there are a lot of green pineapples coming to the market while buyers are looking for colour.
“Nicely coloured fruit are selling well but green fruits aren’t selling. Prices are R80, which is not bad but it could have been R100 if the fruit had more colour,” he opines.
“Prices have remained firm but we’re seeing with the cold that the markets are becoming full and demand is dropping. Nevertheless, prices have been surprisingly good for this time of the year,” says a pineapple grower. “We had cold earlier than we expected, and it’s still wet after a lot of rain in May for this area.”
“I’m sitting with a lot of stock that the guys aren’t happy to buy,” says the Johannesburg market trader. “Normally on a weekday I sell 10 or 15 pallets, now I sell three or four. Buyers from the shops aren’t buying the green fruit.”
Demand for fruit usually drops as the seasons turn, but it normally recovers in the middle of winter, he remarks. Supply should remain stable. Pineapple prices are 18% higher than a year ago (around R8 (0.38 euro)/kg.
On a small scale South African pineapples are also flown out to the Middle East and Europe (France, Germany and the Netherlands).
China: Strong demand, stable pricing
In Guangdong in Southern China, a prominent pineapple production region, this season's production is reduced by 30%. The fruit harvested now was planted two years ago, during Covid, and as the market fluctuated strongly in that period, planting decreased. Market demand is strong and prices are stable. The Golden Diamond variety is the most common variety and in short supply this year. This variety has high requirements regarding temperature, planting technology production costs in the production area, and current domestic planting area and supply have not yet met the market demand.
For Hainan pineapples, the time to market is delayed due to a relatively cold Winter. Actual demand is less strong than expected for this fruit. With Taiwan pineapples not having market access to the China Mainland market, Hainan pineapple production is expected to increase. Earlier in May, Xinguo JiaYuan, a subsidiary of Joyvio, part of the Golden Wing Mau Group, has announced they will make substantial investments in Hainan pineapple production.
Gold Diamond is Taiwan's biggest pineapple variety, mainly grown for export markets. The variety is harvested between February and May. This year, the harvest period was particularly dry. Drought is causing the fruit to be smaller and sweeter, which generally is appreciated by the market. As such, this year's market prices are stable.
At the moment, Taiwanese pineapple does not have market access to Mainland China after a decision to block the fruit in 2021. It takes two to three years for a pineapple field to come into full production. As Mainland China is a large and attractive market for Taiwanese fruit, it is expected that Taiwanese pineapple production will drastically decrease starting next season. Few to none new planting bases will be developed as long as China's Mainland is not open to this fruit.
North America: Strong May pineapple pricing
Stronger pineapple pricing this month will likely stabilize in the near future. “Supplies of pineapple are rebounding still. It’s taking longer than in years past,” says one shipper.
Following the typical low point in Mexican pineapple supplies (late March to the first week in May), supplies are slowly increasing. That coupled with weather events in South America over the past year have hurt the imported Costa Rican crop, so pricing has been higher. Two weeks ago, pineapple pricing was $11.50 on a six-count box of pineapples. This week it’s $13.50.
There’s also increasing demand for pineapple. “Imports from Costa Rica have been getting larger in supply since February, but demand is also trending up,” says the shipper. “Even with more Costa Rican pineapples in March and April, people who normally buy Mexican pineapples are eating up more Costa Rican product.”
With Mexican supply rebounding too, pineapple demand in retail and foodservice is also growing.
Looking ahead, the market will likely level off and stabilize given pineapple has a widespread sourcing base -- countries like Honduras are also shipping product.
Costa Rica: Country to maintain pineapple production levels in 2023
The export figures for last year are an estimate because there was a cyber attack on the Government of Costa Rica and the data for a period of 3 months was lost, but taking into account the records of export departures at the customs level, the sector does not expect there to be a big difference between this and the data with which the year 2021 closed.
“In 2023 we are already seeing that the production ranges will be maintained because according to the data that the different organizations are providing us, we would continue to be at a production volume of between 2.3 and 2.6 million tons. Of course, we do not rule out that there may be a problem with the volumes due to production efficiency, as a consequence of the war in Ukraine and the lack of availability of containers, which affected the entire world; and in the case of Costa Rica, very much an agro-exporting country, we also suffered the consequences of the shortage of fertilizers and agrochemicals, especially in the pineapple sector.”
"I estimate that in the second half of this year we will be able to assess these effects because the producer has really made a huge effort to avoid minimizing the agronomic package that pineapple production requires," sector representatives add.
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