Guide

Pineapple Guide

Customs & Tariffs

What Are the Customs & Tariffs Applicable in the Main Markets for Costa Rican Pineapple?


Production Supply Chain

What Is the Cultivation Process for Pineapples?

Pineapples can produce several fruits over successive production cycles in their natural state. However, industrial production requires new plant stock to be planted after each production climate. Depending on the pedoclimatic conditions and varieties, a cycle extends on average over 14 to 20 months. The pineapple cycle is broken down into 3 stages:

  1. Sprouts planted and grown (6-7 months)
  2. Flowering until harvest (5-6 months)
  3. Sprout production for replanting (3-6 months)

The main condition for pineapple cultivation is the optimal temperature of the plantation which cannot fall below 25 degrees Celsius. Such temperature ensures normal plant growth and proper fruit-bearing. Pineapple water requirements are moderate but a regular and consistent supply is preferable for good plant development. Pineapple sprouts are harvested when they reach about 350-550 G. They are sorted by 100 G categories, to bear fruits of staggering size, with the lighter sprouts bearing smaller fruits than heavier sprouts. After planting on prepared soil, sprout growth is boosted with fertilizers and parasite monitoring. Treatments and weed control are added as necessary. 

How Are Pineapples Harvested and Transported?

The harvesting is often done manually. The harvesters pass between the rows and pick the fruit by breaking the stalk or cutting it. The fruits can be placed into harvesting crates or types of backpacks fitted with cells which house each individual fruit. Each row of pineapples is loaded onto trailers and driven to packaging stations. There are two basic modes of transport : air-freight and sea-freight. Transport by air-freight is characterized by the merchandise being grouped together and transported to the airport. The product is then loaded onto air pallets and shipped to recipient markets. Transport by sea-freight is associated with a longer circuit. Pineapples are harvested then taken to packing stations, where they are washed and packed by size. Then they are palletized and pre-cooled to a lower core temperature since transport time is longer. The pallets are taken to the shipping ports and loaded onto polythermal ships or refrigerated containers. The fruits at arrival are taken to the importer’s premises, supermarkets, purchasing centers, or directly to the end customer.

How Is the Supply Chain Formed?

Margin: Producers (24.8%) – Exporters (4.9%) – Importers and Transport companies (14.3%) – Customs (3.7%) – Retailers (42.6%) – Supermarket workers’ wage (9.7%)


The last decade has seen the rise in share of major retailers as these are increasingly looking to buy directly from producers without the help of middlemen (multinational traders).


Most farmers and growers own their farmlands and medium to large farms have their own packing houses and exporter network. The packing house sorts and packs products based on buyers' requests. Most production is done through the National Chamber of Pineapple Producers and Exporters (CANAPEP), where there are about 60 suppliers; most of them are medium to large size and 20-25% are small independent suppliers. Not meeting the order requests rarely happens in the Costa Rican pineapple industry, because Costa Rica's economy depends heavily on the pineapple industry and it is well-supported. Brokers do not play a major role in the value chain. It is possible to employ a broker if a buyer is new to the market, but most of the farms are family-owned with a long history in pineapple farming. Some small players form a co-op to increase pineapple production volume. There is an oligopoly formed by the big three companies: Chiquita, Del Monte, and Dole. They have their own alliances with farmers with set supply programs that are usually set before the harvest season. Also, they have a strong domination in the market. 


Trade Overview

Which are the emerging markets for Costa Rica pineapple?

Costa Rica is conquering new markets in Asia, Middle East, and Europe. Turkey leads as the main buyer for the last 5 years, showing sustainable growth, with exception of 2020 due to the COVID-19 crisis. All emerging countries' exports have shown a fall in export value with the exception of Turkey and Tunisia. Greece has performed well except for 2020.


The graphic below totals the five-year export value per country. Turkey's market share is 45%, followed by Japan and Greece. Efforts will continue to foster market growth in emerging nations.


The below graphic reflects the average market share for a total of five years.



Who Are the Main Buyers of Costa Rican Pineapple?

Most of Costa Rica's pineapples are headed to North America (50%) and the EU (39%) with the rest heading to the UK (5%) and other destinations (6%). 


The six main markets represent 88% of total pineapple exports.




Seasonality of Main Producing Regions

What Are the Regions in Costa Rica Where Pineapples Are Produced?

As shown in the map provided by CANAPEP (National Chamber of Pineapple Producers), 40,000 Hectares are covered by pineapple plantations distributed in three regions, contributing to the local economy and providing direct jobs to nearly 30,000 people.




Where Are the Main Producing Regions?

Spanish rulers introduced the pineapple to the Philippines in the 19th century. Since then, this tropical fruit has grown to become one of the country’s major crops, in addition to the Philippines having become one of the world’s main pineapple producers. 

Pineapples and their products are the third largest export of the country, after banana and coconut oil. The Philippines produces around 3 million metric tons (MT) of pineapples annually with over 70 thousand hectares (ha) of area planted. The majority of these are found in Mindanao, especially in Northern Mindanao, accounting for 60%, followed by SOCCSKSARGEN (South Cotabato, Cotabato Province, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, and General Santos City) with around 30%. Davao, Caraga, and Zamboanga are also key producers in the south. In Luzon, Bicol provides output around 5-6% , while CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon), Cagayan Valley, and Central Luzon are also key producers.

Harvesting is done year-round, with April to July considered as peak time.

What Are the Different Types of Processed Pineapple Products?

Dried pineapple

  • Most of the free water of the fruit is eliminated in this product
  • Prepared in chunks or slices for better presentation and make handling easier
  • Final moisture is near 5%, and this allows the dried fruit to have a long shelf life

Juice

  • Obtained from crushing fruit pieces and proper physical separation of the solids
  • Juice must be pasteurized and packed to extend its shelf life and a preservative or refrigerated storage may be used as additional barriers to microbial spoilage
  • Packing maybe plastic bottles or bags, coated cans, multi-laminate (plastic, paper, metal foil), or any newer materials

Nectar

  • It is the product of blending juice with a certain amount of solids from the pulp containing the same amount of °Brix as the original fruit
  • Nectars are prepared by diluting fruit pulp to 30 °Brix
  • Methods of preservation and packing are similar to those described for juice

Pulp

  • It is the product of the basic processing of peeled pineapple pulp by crushing
  • Pulp may be preserved by thermal treatment, by preservatives addition, and proper handling
  • Packed in small packages, or in bulk packages for further industrial processing and formulations as ice cream mixes, jellies, jams, sodas, etc.

Juice Price < IQF Price < Fruit Price. This is as pineapples rejected from being exported are sent to made into IQF cubes (but still needs to be firm), and those rejected from there are sent to juicing. 

Main Varieties

What Are the Most Common Types of Pineapple?

Smooth Cayenne (Hawaiian)

  • Fruit is large; cylindrical, brownish yellow, flat eyes not prominent medium-deep, flesh yellowish, very juicy, sweet, slightly fibrous, aromatic, rich flavor and excellent quality; medium core, fairly inedible; small crown; leaves are long, broad, and generally spineless
  • It is good for canning

Queen (Formosa)

  • Fruit is small, oblong, slightly tapering, color straw yellow with brown markings; eyes prominent, small and deep; flesh yellowish, tender, crispy, sweet, rich flavor and excellent quality, small core; and small to medium crown
  • It is good for the table

Red Spanish (Native Philippine Red)

  • Fruit is small to medium, somewhat cone-shaped, and of medium quality
  • Eyes are relatively large, and when ripe has a bright, and clear red color
  • Fruit has no commercial value
  • Mature leaves of this variety are the excellent raw material for piña fibers

Extra Sweet/MD2

  • New natural hybrid variety emerged in the 1980s
  • Semi-spiny variety established itself due to good yields and low sensitivity to black spots and soil parasites
  • Has a mild, sweet flavor and is very popular among consumers

What Is the General Description of the Pineapple Produced in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is the leading global producer and exporter of pineapple hybrid variety MD2 also known as golden pineapple. It ranks as the #1 global supplier with a 44% export share and export value of USD 1B in 2019. The MD2 travels well in containers, compared to how airfreight used to be more commonplace before. The pink pineapple recently developed by Del Monte can be considered more like an exotic choice rather than a gamechanger in the marketplace.


The golden pineapple is the most popular variety in the world. It has an almost uniform size, with a cylindrical appearance and an orange-yellow color. The interior is made up of a creamy-yellow color pulp, and depending on its physiological ripeness, it can vary in intensity. The texture of the pulp is fibrous, consistent, semi-hard, and firm to the touch, with a slightly sour and sweet flavor (pH scale: 3.4 - 4.5). The pineapple pulp is aromatic with a crunchy and juicy consistency. The pineapple has high water content and is low in calories while being rich in vitamin C and potassium. It has a rapidly digestible carbohydrate content of 11% which increases as the fruit matures. 


Pineapples are sanitized and wax-coated to protect their quality and improve their shelf life, so they can be consumed several weeks after harvest.


The production is conventional and organic, and it is available year-round with a consistent supply to the international markets. 

International Logistics

What Are Some Common Trade Issues That Pineapple Buyers and Suppliers Experience?

As with any agricultural or fresh product, pineapple trading may come with disputes and negotiations. The magnitude of merchandise flows for fresh and processed pineapples is huge which means that there are relatively few disputes. However, the most common issue involves fresh pineapples, especially with regard to their high perishability. The damage is often encountered during the transporting stage. While reefer shipping is generally well managed (thanks to the high-performing polythermal technology), containers do give rise to the occasional incident. A malfunctioning refrigerated unit can lead to qualitative deterioration of the pineapple. In these types of situations, the recipient can commission a joint inquiry to determine the cause of the damage and its cost implications. Sea shipments are usually covered by insurance. Conversely, air-freight shipments are rarely insured due to the short transport time. Disputes that arise from this type of merchandise are often settled amicably between the supplier and customer. If there is a disagreement during the dispute, the parties can always appeal to an arbitration chamber to settle the issue.

How is the logistics process for exporting Philippine pineapples?

Sea freight is the most common mode of transportation used for shipping. The main ports of exit are Davao International Container Terminal and Cagayan de Oro container port. 


Sea:

Pros: Less expensive

Cons: Long transit times aggravated by port congestion and delays


Air-freight: (not common)

Pros: Shorter transit time and fresher fruit conditions

Cons: Very expensive


Document preparation and regulation process are almost the same for both methods. Airfreight from Davao will need to be sent to Cebu as there is no direct flight out of Davao. A common trans-shipment point is Taiwan.

How are the logistics for exporting Costa Rican pineapples to Asia?

Despite the distance, logistics to Asia are cheaper than nearby destinations such as Canada or USA. The reason is that logistics work on both sides (import/export) lowering the logistics operations costs.


Although longer transit time is the main obstacle for fresh produce exporters to penetrate Asian countries, there are some pineapple and banana exporters that have managed to prepare the fruit to endure longer transit time without sacrificing quality. The fastest route is to South Korea with 24 days transit time while China is the longest with 30-40 days transit time. Shipping costs range between $3,500-$5,000 (RFR 40 FCL).


Airfreights to Asia may vary from $4-7/kgs for 500+ kg/weight, transit time 3-4 days.



Local Logistics

How Are the Local Logistics in Costa Rica?

Local logistics is well-established for pineapples because Costa Rica has been exporting this product in large volumes for many years. However, there are unpaved roads for some packing houses. Major ports include port Limon and Caldera, which are located in the northern part of Costa Rica. On average, pineapple farms are located 180km away from port Limon and 140km from port Caldera. Trucking cost is around USD 650, which is cheaper than that of Mexico (USD2,000)

How Is the Local Logistics in the Philippines?

Local transportation infrastructure is well-established. Major producing regions are about 3-4 hours away from the port, and it may be more costly for farms in Bukidnon, which is at the center of Mindanao Island.