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Costa Rica: Biggest challenge for pineapple producers is to meet demand in ChinaWednesday, August 09, 2017 > 11:07:52
Four months after obtaining the necessary permits to export pineapples to China, Costa Rican producers were convinced that they would succeed in China and that the main challenge would be to cope with the high demand.
"We need more volume as producers because demand is bigger than supply," Cesar Boente, commercial manager of Upala Agrícola, one of the four companies that has been sending pineapples to China since last March, told Efe.
The first containers came out in early June and arrived in the Chinese city of Shanghai at the end of the month and we've been able to see how the Costa Rican pineapple has had a great acceptance in the Chinese market in just a few weeks, said Boente.
Currently exporters are shipping some 30 containers with about 600 tons of pineapples per week, a figure that is still symbolic as producers currently don't have enough product to send and need to produce more, Boente added.
The opening of the Chinese market has special relevance for the producers because it gives them a third export destination, after Europe and America, which will lead to it becoming more competitive.
Boente participated in a promotional event organized by the official agency Procomer Costa Rica to make the country's star product better known in China.
According to data from the Costa Rican Ministry of Foreign Trade, China is showing an increasing trend in consumption, as imports of this fruit increased by 64% between 2014 and 2015.
"It is a great opportunity for the pineapple sector. It is not something that we can cover in the short term but it is an opportunity for the long term, in say ten or fifteen years, to cover this strong need for good quality pineapple in the Chinese market," said Jose Pablo Rodriguez, commercial director of Procomer Costa Rica.
According to their calculations, China's pineapple import market will be worth about 1 billion dollars in three or four years.
"Costa Rica's share will depend on how much supply we can move to this market," he added.
The permit obtained by the Latin American country in China was a milestone for the sector as the pineapple market's growth there is exponential.
In Costa Rica there are 43,000 hectares and 550 producers dedicated to the cultivation of pineapple. It is the main export of the agricultural sector of the Central American country, over coffee and bananas.
In 2016 Costa Rica exported 873 million dollars in pineapple. 53% of these sales went to the United States, 44% to the European Union and the rest to other regions.