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US importer comments on Costa Rican supplies

Pineapple market remains low on flat demand

The pineapple market continues to be weak, as demand remains flat. Supplies though remain stable with mostly favorable weather bringing about good volume. Costa Rica is still the number one grower for the US market and the stable conditions have meant that pineapple production is not facing any difficulties. 

"We source our pineapples from Costa Rica all year round," said Jeff Liefer of Pura Vida Farms. "The weather has been fairly normal, and consistent with the time of year. There have been a few more cloudy periods at times, but overall, supplies are not a problem."

Flat demand
While supplies are not an issue, the market is, with growers seeing a low market for a lengthy period of time. The reason is simply not enough demand for the fruit, and prices are low. Additionally, larger fruit this season has not helped, with consumers preferring smaller sized fruit. 

"The market has not been too sharp and pineapples have been pretty cheap since August," Liefer said. "There's not enough demand and prices have been around the $8.00 - $9.00 a box range, sometimes as low as $5.00. There has also been a lot of bigger fruit this year, with more of the 5 count. Retailers typically prefer the 6 and 7 count fruit so this has not helped the market."

"It's unclear why demand has been so low, and it's possible there is additional volume in the market," he added. "Extra fruit arriving from Mexico is a possibility. Also, growers tend to grow for volume at this time of year, which would lead to more volume than the market can handle."

Easter a quiet time
While some holidays tend to attract a better market for some items, this has not been the case for pineapples during Easter. Liefer said the Easter season has been quiet, and pineapples have been priced very low in stores. 

"Easter is normally a good time, and yet the market remains subdued," he said. "In fact, pineapples have been very cheap in stores, and we've seen a lot of $1.00 per fruit ads being run."

Hopeful that demand will pick up for summer
For pineapple producers, summer is a good time for a better market, and they are hopeful that demand will pick up as warmer weather arrives. Summer is also the time of year that pineapple production becomes more variable, generally leading to a tightening of supplies.

"Demand is expected to pick up over the summer," Liefer noted. "As we move through the NDF (Naturally Differentiated Flowering) period, supplies typically get tighter over the summer. This should lead to a better market, and it's also the time of year when pineapple growers make most of their money."

For more information:
Jeff Liefer
Pura Vida Farms
Tel: +1 (714) 671-1501