In European countries, pineapple sales are going well. Many countries are still missing the demand from the hospitality industry, but the limited supply is keeping the market in balance. There is also a positive mood in the pineapple market in South Africa and the United States.
Costa Rica produces pineapples all year round and has seen an increase in the demand ahead of Easter. In Australia, the market situation is less rosy. Due to a labor shortage, some pineapples cannot be harvested and remain in the fields.
Taiwan is also having a difficult time. China has imposed an import ban on Taiwanese pineapples, so the country is looking for alternative buyers.
Netherlands: Steady pineapple market due to limited supply
Pineapple sales are currently running smoothly. “From week one onwards, there is actually not a lot of fruit available. Delays are more the norm than the exception, and the pace of the arrival of shipments is far from normal,” says a Dutch importer.
“As a result, prices are at a reasonable level. But if more fruit had come onto the market, the pricing would have been more problematic. Now prices stand at around 9 Euro. Supermarkets are buying large volumes, although this does not compensate for the missing sales to the hotel and catering industry.
Furthermore, the conditions in the free trade market are very volatile. When government leaders in Germany or France announce new rules, this has a direct impact on sales to, for example, schools and caterers. Furthermore, sometime in May, the natural flowering will come again, which means that there will be more pineapples on the market.”
Belgium: Pineapple market in balance
Belgian pineapple sales are going reasonably well at the moment. The market is in balance, which means that prices are at an excellent level. This is largely due to the supply, which is rather limited. The fact that restaurants are closed also has some impact on the market, but supermarkets can absorb part of this. Most of the supply currently comes from Costa Rica.
Germany: Difficult market conditions due to shortage of air freight
As in the case of other tropical fruits from overseas, the pineapple market is strongly affected by the lack of air traffic. Importers report that the air freight capacity remains very low, and that this persistent shortage of air freight is taking its toll on the supply and prices.
The bulk of the supply currently comes from Costa Rica. Pineapples from West Africa are only arriving in limited volumes, which means that the prices for the average sizes are somewhat higher.
Pineapples are increasingly perceived as a convenience item. Machines for ad hoc peeling and processing of pineapples into fruit salads are currently in great demand in the German retail. The higher retail segment in particular is betting big on this relatively new formula of German manufacture (Hepro GmbH).
Italy: Good demand for pineapples despite closure of catering industry
In Italy, the demand for pineapples is good despite the closure of the catering industry. The retail is mostly filling this gap. According to an importer from northern Italy, sales were almost at a standstill around this time last year, but that is not the case this time.
Of course, there is no catering or cruise ships, but wholesale prices stand at an average level. Prices range from 0.70 Euro for the greenest pineapples to 1.00-1.20 Euro for the better-colored ones. There are some problems affecting global transportation.
Finding refrigerated containers is difficult and costs have increased dramatically, which also has an impact on the final price. According to information from the importer, the Far East, especially China, is the one hoarding these containers.
Spain: Volumes recover and prices stabilize
Spain is currently importing pineapples from Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and Kenya. In previous years, there has been a slight increase in the demand for pineapples during Easter, especially for those with a good color.
However, this year, the restrictions and limitations imposed because of Covid-19 have had a direct impact on the catering channel, which has resulted in consumption practically not increasing at all. The improvement in sales has to do with the market supply.
So far this year, the demand for green pineapples has remained fairly stable, especially for the top brands. There is more demand for well-colored pineapples, whose prices have remained fairly strong and stable in recent weeks, reaching selling prices of up to 15/16 Euro per box.
These prices have been reached partly thanks to the limited volume on the market in this first part of the year. Volumes are now gradually recovering and prices are also stabilizing.
As for air-shipped pineapples, the demand continues to rise, although high prices and volume constraints are slowing this growth somewhat. It looks like volumes will start to recover in the next few weeks. No quality problems have been reported so far.
South Africa: Good balance between supply and demand
There’s currently a good balance between the pineapple supply and the demand, and according to one grower, the huge increase in pineapple sales is a result of what happened last year, when alcohol was banned due to the COVID lockdown and people started brewing pineapple beer. This created new pineapple consumers and raised product awareness.
In the Eastern Cape, where the fruit is grown, rainfall is still scarce, but KwaZulu-Natal has recorded about 600 mm in six weeks. There were cases of sunburn affecting November’s pineapple harvest, which caused a drop in the production in November and December, but currently growers are expecting a good season. Pineapples are harvested all year round.
The scarcity and irregularity of air freight has had a negative impact on pineapple exports to markets such as the US. There has also been a significant drop in the demand from the catering and hospitality industry, which could put some pressure on the fresh produce supply.
The average price of pineapples in Johannesburg’s municipal market stands at around R7 (€0.4) per kg.
United States: Easter gives boost to the demand for pineapples
The pineapple supply is scarce at the moment. “This is due to the Easter season,” says a California trader. “Also, suppliers are not working full time during Easter, so less is being packed.” Overall, volumes are at the same level as last year and sizes 5, 6 and 7 are the most common, with some size 8, too.
The supplies arrive mostly from Mexico and Costa Rica. Costa Rica supplies pineapples all year round. Mexico almost manages that, too. Ecuador also supplies some pineapples.
The demand is greater than usual due to the Easter season and wholesale prices stand at around $12-$13. Looking ahead, the trader expects the market conditions to remain stable. “By mid to late April, the price will drop a little bit, by maybe $1-$2. I don’t think the demand will be as high as it is now.”
Costa Rica: Demand and prices are up
Costa Rica supplies pineapples all year round and the current volumes are large and of good quality. The good weather of recent months has allowed growers to take all the necessary measures to ensure a good harvest. In the months of January and February, the pineapple export volumes grew by 9% compared to the same period last year, and there is enough demand to absorb these additional volumes.
The demand and prices increased slightly ahead of Easter and the prospect is that this will also be the case for Mother’s Day. Costa Rica is seeing an increase in the demand from China as a result of the Chinese government’s decision to suspend the imports from Taiwan, but China still remains a small market for Costa Rica due to the long distance.
China: Taiwanese pineapple imports temporarily suspended
China’s General Administration of Customs (GACC) announced on February 26 that pineapple imports from Taiwan would be temporarily suspended because several lots of Taiwanese pineapples were found to contain harmful insects that violate GACC standards.
This ban took effect on March 1. Over 97% of all Taiwanese pineapples are intended for the Chinese markets, so the impact on Taiwan’s pineapple industry is huge. The Taiwanese pineapple industry has already started looking for alternative destinations.
Many have switched to the Japanese market. Local authorities are also calling on Taiwanese people to eat more pineapples and support the growers.
The temporary ban on Taiwanese pineapples has led to a drop in the supply in the Chinese market and a rise in the demand for pineapples from other suppliers. The sale of pineapples from Guangdong and Hainan has taken off and prices have risen sharply.
The Philippines, Costa Rica and Panama all export large volumes of pineapples to China. Some traders which used to sell Taiwanese pineapples now import from these countries.
Australia: Pineapple sector hit by labor shortage
The Australian pineapple sector has been hit by labor shortages that affect the entire horticultural industry. One grower said that he had to leave 400-500 tons of pineapples in the field in December because he didn’t have enough staff to harvest them.
Earlier this month, the main representative body of Australia’s pineapple sector expressed concern over reports that six tons of fresh pineapples from Taiwan will be imported into Australia in May. The reason is that Taiwan has lost access to the Chinese market.
Growcom is advising consumers to check and be aware of the origin of the fruit, fearing that the inferior quality of the imported pineapples could tarnish the reputation of Australian growers and their brands.
According to the latest statistics from Hort Innovation, 66,069 tons of pineapples (6% less than in the previous year) worth $52.2 million (5% more than in the previous year) were produced in Australia in June 2020. Most of the production takes place in Queensland, where there is year-round supply.
Also, 36% of the total production went to the processing industry. No export volumes were recorded and the supply remains entirely limited to the domestic market. As regards consumption, 40% of Australian households buy fresh pineapples.