Despite predictions for a mostly normal year, suppliers say volumes from Costa Rica may be tight for Easter, which falls earlier in the season this year.
“The 2013 pineapple market will continue to provide a good quality crop with a stable market and volume,” said Dennis Christou, vice president of marketing for Del Monte Fresh Produce, Coral Gables, Fla.
“Market pricing should be in line with the natural cycles of increased or decreased supply and demand and will probably mirror last year,” he said.
Quality and sizing from Costa Rica should be normal as well.
“Quality and sizing should be fairly consistent for the balance of the year,” said Alan Dolezal, vice president of sales for Coral Gables-based Turbana Corp.
In late April last year, cartons of one-layer golden ripe pineapples 5-8 from Costa Rica sold for $9-10.
Turbana markets pineapples in partnership with Dublin-based Fyffes, which is co-owner of Turbana’s parent company, Uniban.
“Historically, production goes down because of the weather at this time of year and right now we’re working with retailers to see what product will be available for Easter, since Easter is early this year, at the end of March,” said Bill Sheridan, executive vice president of sales for Banacol Marketing Corp.
In addition, Dolezal said the weather has been slightly troubling for pineapple growers over the past few months.
“Costa Rica, in particular, has had to contend with several periods of extremely heavy rainfall, which has affected the fruit’s maturation process as well as the ability to harvest in a timely manner,” Dolezal said.
This could translate into a possible shortage around the Easter holiday, although quality should be high.
“Volume will be tight, but we’re expecting a good, consistent product and excellent quality,” Sheridan said.
Other suppliers agree volume is low this time of year.
“Currently production isn’t at full potential from Costa Rica,” said Robert Schueller, director of public relations for World Variety Produce, Los Angeles, which markets Melissa’s brand products.
The company markets organic pineapples as well as specialty pineapples from South Africa.
Schueller said South African production levels are currently lower than normal for the baby pineapples the company markets.
“Usually we would be at full production out of South Africa right now, but we’re getting a lot of inconsistent sizing so we seem to be in a bit of a lull right now,” he said.
Still, the pineapple category has seen growth over the past seasons.
“Per-capita consumption of fresh pineapple continues to increase in North America. Aside from the delicious taste, more and more consumers are becoming aware of the dietary and health benefits of fresh pineapple,” Dolezal said.
“We’re seeing a great potential for pineapples for the future by having a consistent retail price along with a consistent product offering,” he said.