China grants access approval for Costa Rican pineapples

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China grants access approval for Costa Rican pineapples

The world's top pineapple-exporting country will now have access to the world's largest market by population, following a fruitful visit from Chinese inspectors last month. 

While protocols for Costa Rican pineapples in China were signed in September 2015, the process was hampered by delays as industry awaited confirmation of a final audit. 

They finally got what they were waiting for in February with new inspections of farms and packing plants in the areas of Guápiles, Sarapiquí, San Carlos and Upala.

Chinese officials were clearly pleased with what they saw, as yesterday the Costa Rican Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG) announced it had received an official notice of approval from China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ).

"We are very satisfied with this achievement, which is the fruit of a combined effort between COMEX (Ministry of Foreign Trade), PROCOMER (Foreign Trade Promoter of Costa Rica) and MAG," Foreign Trade Minister Alexander Mora said in arelease.

"Costa Rica stands out as the biggest exporter of pineapples in the world, and currently it is present in the most demanding markets. This authorization allows us to sell our pineapples in China, a country which shows a growing consumption and importation trend for this product.

"Between 2014 and 2015 alone imports grew 64%."

He highlighted Chinese pineapple imports grew by 38% annually on average between 2011 and 2015, which shows the "great potential China has as a possible consumer of Costa Rican pineapples, which are known for their quality and flavor".

Costa Rica has some 38,000 hectares of pineapple cultivation registered, shared between 550 growers, and at least 20 exporters that have shown interest in shipping to China.

"This is excellent news and a reward for the work well done, both on the part of growers and packers in terms of quality and productivity, as well as on the part of State Phytosanitary Service and MAG officials which have accompanied the sector in the process," said Agriculture and Livestock Minister Luis Felipe Arauz.

"Now, the efforts should be concentrated in consolidating this opportunity to enter such a wide market, with measures of innovation and sustainability in production."

Costa Rica shipped close to half of the world's pineapples exported in 2015 with a value of US$821.9 million. 

According to Statista, Costa Rica grew 2.9 million metric tons (MT) of the fruit in 2014, ahead of Brazil (2.6 million MT and the Philippines (2.5 million MT). In that same year, China grew 1.4 million MT of pineapples.

In contrast to the aforementioned nations, Costa Rica has a relatively small population of 4.87 million people so the majority of its crop is shipped abroad. 

Now that pineapples have joined bananas in the Central American country's produce export portfolio for the Chinese market, melons are the next fruit in line in negotiations.


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