Retail buyers who are concerned with color should be more open to buying pineapples from Mexico, Gonzalez said.
“Right now, we have better color than Costa Rica,” Gonzalez said. “That’ll dazzle the customer that looks for good color.”
Gonzalez said he expects good volumes this season — similar to last year — for Frontera, which markets gold pineapples from Mexico and Costa Rica.
“There should be plenty to promote through spring,” he said.
Rains in Veracruz last fall delayed planting, so production will peak a bit later than usual, he said.
“We aim for an Easter peak,” he said. “If it’s a mild spring, we might see them peak later.”
However, Mexico’s recent warm temperatures might speed maturation of the fruit and harvesting could be a week to two weeks ahead of expectations.
Mexico-grown pineapples represent about 75% of Frontera’s volume, Gonzalez said.
Frontera typically markets its Mexico-grown pineapples from November through June or July and Costa Rica-grown pineapples throughout the year.
Mexico lags behind Costa Rica as an exporter of gold pineapples to the U.S., but proximity can offer a significant advantage for Mexican pineapples, said Pablo Jiminez, marketing manager at Mexican Pineapple Exporters Association.
“The main difference between Mexican pineapple and any other in the U.S. market is the freshness that we have,” Jiminez said.
Mexican pineapples can arrive more quickly in the U.S. because they are transported by truck for about 20 hours instead of spending several days on a ship from Costa Rica or elsewhere.
Pineapples from Mexico can be on supermarket shelves in the U.S. within 72 hours of harvest, Jiminez said.
Fruit quality is comparable to pineapples grown in other countries, he said.
Growers in Mexico produce mainly the smooth cayenne variety, which continues to be the most popular variety in the Mexican marketplace, Jiminez said. About 85% of Mexico’s pineapples are smooth cayennes, he said.
Mexico’s exports have increased steadily since growers began planting the gold variety. In 2008, for example, it exported about 47,000 short tons, and about 59,000 short tons in 2010.
About 7% of gold pineapples on the U.S. market are imported from Mexico, Jiminez said.
AMEP, founded in September 2009, aims to promote the pineapple export industry in Mexico.
The organization is operated by its seven grower-exporter members, Verafrut, Campo Real, Pinicola, Tabafresh, La Mas Dorada, and Gasperin.