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Warmer weather across tropical countries in the Caribbean and South America has led to a slowing in production of pineapples since the start of the year. In Panama the warm weather and ongoing drought affected their pineapple production negatively, leading to lower production. This has led to a reduction in fruit size, with increased irrigation and other costs. The Panama Canal delays has not affected their exports because they were able to use alternative ports. The island nation of the Dominican Republic saw lower production since the start of the year. Rain has arrived, which also affects production. The booming tourism industry on the island has become a lifeline for producers as they supply this lucrative market on their own shores. Ecuador's season is delayed by about a month due to climate challenges, an exporter notes. Ecuador has had the biggest growth of pineapple exports to Spain, from 765 t to more than 5,000 t in one year (2023) alone. Record high temperatures and consistent heat in the Canary Islands has led to an advance in production of up to two months. Producers are seeing a significant drop in supply to Spain. Prices are also trending higher as a result. Costa Rica remains the largest supplier of pineapples to Spain, going from sending 142,560 t in 2022 to exceeding 160,000 t in 2023.

Italy continues to receive 90% of their pineapples from Costa Rica. The shortages in Costa Rica, due to the climate, is leading to improving prices in Italy, following lower pricing from January to March. In France the availability of summer fruit on the market is seeing pineapple demand slowing with prices trending lower than earlier in the year. Currently available on the French market are pineapples from Guyana, Central America, Africa, Mauritius and Reunion. In the Netherlands the pineapple market has been stable for weeks. However, the number of pineapple importers in the Netherlands has significantly decreased over the years. China's pineapple production season ended early, while the overall performance was not ideal due to unfavourable weather conditions. Frost damage during flowering led to black rot on fruit, with persistently low prices, resulting in widespread losses. North America is seeing steadier pineapple supply recently. This followed tighter supplies from the start of the year along with softer pricing that has now moved back up. The South African market has scarce product supply that has lasted for several months already, while demand is not big in winter.

Panama: Lower production due to warm weather
The warm weather and drought affected Panama's pineapple production negatively with lower production. According to a grower, "It is causing a reduction in fruit size, with high costs of implementing and operating irrigation systems to preserve the quality of the fruit."

The prices of pineapples have not been keeping up with the higher input costs the grower notes: "Surely demand has increased, but definitely not hand in hand with prices. Prices are increasingly falling, putting the continuity of our agricultural businesses at risk. Currently, we are facing problems of climate change, increased production and logistics costs and a falling price."

Producers and exporters have been able to navigate the Panama Canal delays well by exporting from different ports in the country, namely Manzanillo Port.

Dominican Republic: Lower production, tourism increases local market consumption
The Island nation also struggled with warmer weather that impacted pineapple production. A producer noted, "The warmer weather also affected us at the beginning of the year and now the rains began, which also affects production, but it is something that we have to learn to manage in our sector."

The island is ever popular with tourists, who enjoy the locally grown pineapples. The industry is focused on supplying the local market too. "The production of pineapples in the Dominican Republic is increasing but we're very focused on working the local market, which thanks to the increase in tourism on the island has increased."

Summer is coming in USA and Europe, with demand for pineapples from the Dominican Republic usually picking up during this time. "Europe has expressed a high demand all year, usually in summer, it was used due to the entrance to the local fruits market, but this year the demand has remained," notes the producer.

The ongoing war in Gaza has affected exports to the Israel and the Middle Eastern markets. "The war affected the logistics and availability of spaces," confirms the producer who exports directly to that region from the island.

Ecuador: Harvesting delayed due to weather
A producer and exporter noted that Ecuador's pineapple harvesting is delayed by one month due to climate issues. This is causing production to fall behind while they compete with Brazil, Costa Rica and Panama.

Spain: Advance of production due to heat in Canary Islands reduces supply
In the period from October to April, the Canary Islands have been chaining temperature records that have placed those months, with the exception of March - which, fortunately, offered a necessary respite, and December, which was only the 4th warmest December recorded - as the warmest since records began to be made in 1961, with anomalies of up to 3.6 degrees above the average. And this situation is generating a notable impact on the Canarian fruit and vegetable sector that is significantly noticeable in tropical pineapple production.

"Right now production has dropped and prices have reached high levels because with the heat we have not been able to maintain the continuous production cycle throughout the year," they explain from the largest tropical pineapple production cooperative in Spain.

"The plants have been in a growth process that has not stopped at any time and, despite the planning of the plantations by the farmers, production has gone so fast that it has been advanced between a month and two months. In fact, we are already harvesting the tropical pineapples that we expected in June."

"Producers who have known, or been able to, have fruit at this time are receiving very good prices for their tropical pineapple, but since most of the harvests have been so early, the rest of the farmers will have to wait for the next one to come, which is expected in mid-summer, approximately at the end of July."

Regarding overseas pineapple imports into mainland Spain, in 2023, according to data from Spanish customs, they grew by 12.6% to almost 190,000 t. Costa Rica was once again the largest supplier of pineapples, going from sending 142,560 t to Spain in 2022 to exceeding 160,000 t in 2023. However, Ecuador has been the origin that experienced the greatest increase, going from 765 t to more than 5,000 in only one year.

Italy: Major supplier Costa Rica's climate challenges starting to reflect in pricing
After a less than rosy period from January to March (just before Easter), pineapple prices have now improved. According to a trader in central Italy, "90% of the fruit comes from Costa Rica; the other origins are not well known or appreciated in the Italian market". The market is currently growing because of a lack of product availability, not because of an increase in consumption. The purchase price (i.e. the price paid by the wholesaler to the distributor) for size 6-7 green pineapples from Costa Rica, transported by ship, is between €14 and €16 per box of around 12 kg, while for size 8 pineapples the range is between €13 and €14 per box. For plant-ripened (i.e. yellow) pineapples transported by ship from Costa Rica, this is a period of severe shortage due to climatic problems. As a result, demand is high and supply low, with prices ranging from €17-19 per box for sizes 6-7 and €16-18 per box for size 8. Also arriving by ship are yellow pineapples in vertical/pyramid boxes (commonly referred to in the industry as 'vertical pineapples'), which cost around €23-25. Pineapples transported by air, on the other hand, have a purchase price range of 42-44 €/box.

At the Italian retail level, there are currently no major price fluctuations. The average price of pineapple is 1.15-1.20 €/kg. Consumption is good and stable, as is demand.

An Italian company that imports, cultivates and distributes exotic and off-season fruits worldwide has introduced an exclusive line of Costa Rican pineapples (with natural ripening in the plant and transport by sea) that are superior in terms of sweetness and colour. This range is designed to meet the needs of wholesalers looking for distinctive products. The company also ensures high quality standards with regular shipments of pineapples by air from Panama and Costa Rica. It also offers baby pineapples from Mauritius and South Africa throughout the year, known for their small size, thin skin and extra sweet taste.

France: Summer fruit sees pineapple demand slowing
Currently available on the French market are pineapples from Guyana, Central America, Africa, Mauritius and Reunion. Prices oscillate between (wholesale prices) 1.30 euros for pineapple from Africa by boat and 3.20 by plane / Central America plane 4.40 euros / 2.10 euros by boat.

During the first months of the year, the French pineapple market was good. Demand outstripped supply, with attractive prices. But today, the market has changed. With the arrival of summer fruit, pineapple demand is slightly lower.

Netherlands: Pineapple market stable for weeks
The number of pineapple importers in the Netherlands has significantly decreased over the years. "For weeks now, the market has been stable. Costa Rica is not sending overly large volumes, and what comes in is well justified," notes a Dutch importer. "In recent weeks, sales of crownless pineapples for fruit salads lagged a bit, but with the sunny weather of the past week, that has been rectified. Prices for pineapples range between 10.50-11 euros. However, the start of the Spanish stone fruit season traditionally leads to less demand for year-round available products like pineapples."

China: Pineapple production seasons ended early, overall performance not ideal
The conclusion of the pineapple production season arrived prematurely this year, accompanied by suboptimal performance attributed to unfavourable weather conditions.

Traditional pineapple varieties faced a substantial decline in market prices, whereas certain varieties enjoyed popularity despite limited production, maintaining relatively stable prices overall. Frost during the flowering stage inflicted blackheart and black rot on the fruits, leading to persistently low prices throughout the peak sales period from late December to early to mid-April, resulting in widespread losses.

Moreover, March saw the entry of pineapples into the market, yet quality issues arose due to adverse weather conditions, affecting up to 80% of the produce in some regions. Although prices remained steady, the scarcity of high-quality fruits led to fluctuating prices. Towards the end of the season, around mid-to-late April, pineapple quality improved, with heightened sweetness consequently boosting prices and sales, albeit with diminished volume.

Some growers attributed the early conclusion of the season to the relatively modest pineapple production and extensive fruit damage incurred during extreme weather episodes, resulting in diminished fruit volume and smaller sizes.

Notably, adverse weather conditions impacted both production and quality, culminating in reduced export volumes compared to previous years. While highlighting existing export destinations like Russia, Central Asia, and the newly added North Korean market, people are more open to engage with more pineapple exporters.

United States: Steadier North American pineapple supply
Following a tighter pineapple supply approximately one month ago, the supply of pineapples has been more consistent recently. That said, pricing trends on pineapple so far this year tell more of the story.

Through the end of last year and the beginning of this year, pineapples saw softer pricing that ranged between $12-$15 CAD. Then prices moved back up over market pricing to above $20 CAD, and then to $22. Now pricing is strong again and it is between $22-$28 CAD. The movement on pricing could be due to a crop changeover–when the price increases, depending on the market, shippers might wait to see if prices hold. If they don't, they then soften again.

As for supply, pineapples are coming largely from Costa Rica though Ecuador and other central South American countries are also supplying fruit.

Meanwhile, the demand for pineapples also tends to be consistent. In foodservice for example, it's not a price-sensitive item and if the price moves up, movement continues. One thing that is also noted is that there's more supply available of crownless pineapples.

South Africa: Scarce product, demand not big in winter
Pineapples are very scarce at the moment, says a Gauteng market agent, a situation that has lasted for several months already, with producers harvesting ahead which causes complications further down the line, he says.

Pineapple demand in winter is never as big as in summer and farmers are waiting for Brix levels to climb before they harvest. The expectation is that slightly more volumes could come in next week, but that prices will remain firm throughout winter.

Prices started dipping when volumes decreased again, and prices picked up again: count 10 pineapples sell for R13 (0.65 euro) to R14 (0.7 euro) each. In March and April pineapple prices were not far off R15 (0.75 euro) per kilogram, substantially higher than the previous two seasons when volumes (especially last year) were noticeably higher. In May it has come down to an average of R9,38 (0.47 euro)/kg. The 8kg econo pack sells for an average of R13.42 (0.67 euro) at the Johannesburg market at the moment.

Next week's topic: Tomatoes