Cool weather tightens pineapple supplies

02/07/2011 02:03:13 PM
Pamela Riemenschneider

The cool, rainy weather that has put banana growers in a bind also is affecting pineapple production.

Supplies will be adequate, grower-shippers said, but not plentiful.

“We expect 2011 to be similar to 2010 without many changes,” said Dennis Christou, vice president of marketing for Del Monte Fresh Produce NA, Coral Gables, Fla.

The cool weather means tighter supplies later in the season, said Bil Goldfield, communications manager for Dole Fresh Fruit, Westlake Village, Calif.

“We expect volume will increase,” Goldfield said.

“Cool weather has slowed down production now, but we will see that volume come later.

The La Niña weather pattern hit Costa Rican growers, Christou said, but it is not expected to affect supplies of Del Monte’s Gold pineapple.

“Supplies are going to be typical for this time of year,” said Alan Dolezal, vice president of sales for Coral Gables-based Turbana Corp.

“Generally you see somewhat of a tightening in the market around the beginning of the year. That’s due to cold weather in the tropics. It’ll be a tight market, but not critically short.”

C.H. Robinson Worldwide expects its Rosemont brand pineapple supplies to be plentiful this season, said Drew Schwartzhoff, director of marketing for the Eden Prairie, Minn.-based company.

“Based on current expectations and information related to weather and conditions in the growing regions, our anticipation is that pineapple supply and quality will be plentiful from February through the end of May,” he said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture in late January reported pineapples entering through south Florida, Philadelphia and Southern California ranging from $8 to $10 for all sizes with good quality.

Those prices aren’t likely to change much over the next several months, suppliers said.

“With Easter a little bit late this year, we’ll have adequate supplies,” Dolezal said.

“I don’t think you’ll see a big abundance to really see extremely dynamic prices at retail.”

The cool weather has not had an effect on fruit quality or brix levels, said Alvaro Acevedo, vice president of sales for Miami-based Chestnut Hill Farms.

“Mostly it’s been quantity more than anything else,” he said. “Supplies have been a little short but it’s picking up.”

Costa Rica is the top supplier of pineapples for the U.S. this time of year.

“It’s pretty much the bread basket of pineapples for the U.S.,” Dolezal said.

“About 80% are from Costa Rica and nobody else really comes close.”

That has suppliers looking for opportunities in other regions to augment that supply in case of inclement weather or other issues.

Turbana, for example, is looking at Panama as an alternate sourcing region, Dolezal said.

“It’s an ideal climate, an equal distance to ports,” he said. “It could be a good backup to Costa Rica.”



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