“We are at the end of our Naturally Differentiated Flowering (NDF) season which means volumes will drop from next week,” says Adriana Garcia of Chestnut Hill Farms based in Coral Gables, FL. She adds that the peak of supplies this year was less pronounced than in prior years given Chestnut Hill has implemented new strategies to mitigate the impact of cold fronts on pineapple production.
Overall though total pineapple export volumes are higher than last year. “We had several weeks last year in which exported volumes decreased,” says Garcia. “We sense more volume coming into the U.S. market though from Mexico. But Costa Rica is definitely still the first source both for the U.S. and Europe.”
Managing fruit coloring
One challenge on the supply front has been the weather and how it affects the color of the fruit. “The weather is not always in our favor and we need a good balance between sunlight and rain to reach perfect coloration,” she says. That said, Chestnut Hill packs fruit with high coloration, which are marketed as premium pineapples. “There is an important niche for this type of pineapple. We use drones to de-green the fruit and make sure that the fruit is harvested at its peak of maturity,” Garcia says.
Meanwhile demand has been strong in both the U.S. and Europe for pineapple. “As consumers are more aware of the benefits of a healthy diet, I expect pineapples will become more and more popular,” says Garcia, adding the fruit offers vitamin C levels that are comparable to citrus, as well as immune-boosting and aid digestion properties.
This has left prices stable, especially given the lack of disruption in supplies. “Also since the peak in production has been more moderate, there has been a great balance between supply and demand,” Garcia says. “Prices might drop some for the next two weeks in the U.S. as volumes arriving will be higher than usual. After that, they should increase again as supply will be more limited.”