Pineapple exports to the U.S grow with Costa Rica and Colombia

Costa Rica and Colombia continue to boost pineapple exports to the U.S

Costa Rica and Colombia continue to boost pineapple exports to the U.S

According to ProColombia data, the U.S. is historically the main pineapple importer globally. In the last 10 years, it has imported 6.05 billion dollars worth with 85% of pineapple exports coming from Costa Rica. Colombia was the eighth-largest supplier for this fruit to the U.S. during the same period. 

With industries in constant development and growth, Costa Rica and Colombia are seeking to consolidate pineapple consumption in the U.S. market. At the same time, they are aiming to grow exports to new destinations, such as Israel. 

With more than 40,000hectares concentrated in the south and north, Costa Rica produces pineapples all year round. More than 52% of shipments are destined for the U.S., and led by Del Monte company. According to the National Chamber of Pineapple Producers and Exporters (CANAPEP), exports began in the late 1990s and a high quality fruit caught the attention of consumers.

Per capita consumption in the U.S. currently stands at 2.7 kilos per year. And 84% of pineapples consumed come from Costa Rica. 

Abel Chaves, president of CANAPEP’s Board of Directors, says:"Since we started with exports and the development of MD2 pineapple along with phytosanitary work, we are the number one supplier in the U.S. 

“In fact, in supermarket chains, consumers seek Costa Rican pineapple, which has led to an annual average shipment of 170 million boxes of 12 kilos, which is why there is such a large consumption in the U.S". The association seeks to position Costa Rica as the leading pineapple supplier for global markets.

The entity has achieved this growth by promoting efficiency in the field through sustainable programs and agricultural amendments that aim to reduce pollution. This has strengthened pineapple exports and helps meet the demands of consumers.

Colombian market

Along the same lines, Colombia has increased its pineapple production. According to data from ProColombia, in 2021, national pineapple production closed at 927,050 tons, with a 3% growth over the previous year.

In 1989, the first pineapple exports to the United States began with a value of US$122,191, equivalent to 388 tons. Since then, per capita consumption in the country has remained constant, creating annual increases of 9% in imports.

Colombia has the possibility of supplying pineapple all year round, as does Costa Rica. Between January and July this year, Colombia shipped 1.1 million dollars to the US, representing a 27% growth compared to the same period in 2021.

Catalina Hernández, vice-president in charge of Exports at ProColombia, said: "We expect this trend to continue until the end of the year."

Hernandez explains that pineapple helps strengthen the immune system. Other therapeutic properties are also attributed to it because it contains enzymes such as bromelain, manganese and thiamine. This has boosted the growth in consumption, given the trend towards healthier eating.

Catalina Hernández, vice-president in charge of Exports at ProColombia.

Catalina Hernández, vice-president in charge of Exports at ProColombia.

2022 Season 

With a season marked by the logistics crisis, the pandemic and the increase in fertilizer prices in both countries, the Costa Rican pineapple industry is conservative when making projections. Abel Chaves forecasts an average shipment of 190 million boxes for the entire sector, a figure that remains the same compared to 2021.

Of that percentage, 50% of the national industry is destined to the U.S. While between 40 to 43% is sent to Europe, with the rest of the exports destined to Chile and Asia.

According to figures from the National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE) and analysis by ProColombia, Colombia exported more than 3 million net kilos of pineapple between January and July 2022. This represented 1.3% more than in the same period of 2021. In total, last year closed at 6.6 million net kilos.

Regarding FOB value, Hernández details that between January and July 2022, pineapple exports totaled 2.9 million, with a 21% increase compared to the first seven months of 2021. The main export destinations were the U.S., Italy, Curaçao, Slovenia, Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands, Romania and Spain. In these markets, six had positive variations in their purchases of Colombian pineapple.

Hernández expects to maintain last year's growth trend in production and exports, while continuing exporting to these markets.

In terms of opening new countries, Upala Agrícola became the first company in Costa Rica to obtain access to export fresh pineapple directly to Israel. CANAPEP is also working to ship to Japan and several Caribbean islands.

Concerning the challenges of the industry, Chaves believes that there is a desire to consume Costa Rican pineapple from countries because consumption has expanded. 

"The quality has been maintained and I think it will give it more solidity, the analysis of the life cycle of the pineapple that will have an impact on the market. Consumers can access safe pineapples and we want to continue to maintain that leadership worldwide," he concluded.

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