Pineapple is a dynamic and rapidly evolving sector, and the global market has faced changing conditions and production challenges over the course of the year. 2019 was more favorable for some players than for others, as low prices and inconsistent production levels created concerns across the sector. Nonetheless, value-added processing and rising demand in emerging markets present significant opportunities.
In May 2019, it was reported that producers in the US had limited production due and cut back on imports due to low prices. In the EU, demand was also reported to be down. Prices for Central American pineapples on the US market in July were reported to be 9% down on the average for the previous three years. Despite this there are a number of reasons for producers to remain optimistic about the future of the sector and that prices may continue to recover during 2020.
Firstly, there are expanding export opportunities, particularly in Asia. Costa Rica has been in talks with China since 2010 over proposals to export pineapples to China and the first shipments have took place in 2019 after overcoming significant challenges in terms of logistics and pest issues. Panama is also about to start exporting pineapples to China and expect to export up to 25 containers per week in 2020, rising to 50 in 2021. China is a key growth market and Chinese pineapple imports have been growing at an average annual rate of approximately 35%.
In the long term, the market shows strong opportunities for niche and value added products. Convenience products such as chilled fresh-cut pineapple packed as spears or chunks in sealed plastic bags for retail sale are relatively new products and crownless pineapples are particularly well suited for these uses. Fruit can be processed on-site and transported at low temperatures or shipped whole without the crown to large metropolitan centres and processed just before retail sale.
There is also growing demand for products such as organic pineapple juice, which was valued at US$ 3.5 billion in 2018 and is expected to reach US$ 5.6 billion by 2026 growing at a rate of 6.05 % p.a. This is being driven by increased interest in healthy consumption choices by consumers. There is also growing demand for other products such as dried pineapple and pineapple powder for use in food products and as a natural flavour which is expected to grow at a rate of 7.1% p.a.
There are growing opportunities presented by the increased rates of consumption in Latin America as well. Brazil is the world’s largest consumer of pineapples, accounting for 11% of global consumption, a trend which is likely to continue growing. Consumption is also growing in countries such as the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica.
Supply issues have also impacted the market in recent months. Drought has affected production in Mexico with over 3.000 ha impacted. Pineapple prices in Mexico have increased, and it has been reported that a single pineapple fruit can be sold for up to 25 pesos in some places. Supply in Costa Rica, which accounts for 94% of Central American production, is also down due to the El Niño effect leading to unusually hot temperatures. The country currently supplies the US and European markets and the supply of larger pineapples favoured by US consumers have been particularly affected.
Despite supply issues and falling consumption for pineapple in some markets, the future for the sector remains bright with demand for niche, value-added products and new export markets driving the market.