Thai Pineapple Crop Update
The pineapple market continues to be very difficult. Due to sluggish demand and low prices at the end of 2017 and throughout 2018 the price of fresh pineapple dipped as low as 3 Baht per kilo (about 10 cents) and farmers became discouraged from growing the fruit altogether; many of them switched to more profitable crops like mango, rubber, jackfruit or durian. The adverse effects of the lack of new cultivation and proper maintenance of pineapple plantations have been felt increasingly on the market. Pineapple is a very slow growing plant; it takes about a year and half for a new plant to flower and then another 3-4 months for the flower to turn into fruit.
This year’s harvest in Thailand is estimated to barely exceed 1.0 million metric tons; the smallest crop in the last two decades. This shortage has caused a drastic increase in raw material cost (up to 9 Baht per kilo) and a very short winter season as canneries and juice processors competed for the same raw material. Factories were forced to shut down early or run production a couple of days a week only because there hasn’t been enough raw material and the quality of the fruit was also quite poor.
When are we going to see some relief? The general feeling is that the summer 2020 crop, while expected to be bigger than this year’s, will not be big enough to make up for the recent shortfall in production. The new plants are still small and will yield small fruit. Also, the crop size will depend on weather conditions; growers and processors can only hope that there won’t be another El Niño next year that may make the fruit supply even worse, causing a huge gap between supply and demand.