QCOSTARICA – The volume of Costa Rica banana, pineapple, melon, and other tropical fruit exports decreased greatly last year.
According to producers, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG) and the Promoter of Foreign Trade (PROCOMER), the decline in exports was due to several factors, such as: the climate (very dry or very wet), the high costs of transportation, the competition from other countries, or the better prices producers found in the domestic market.
According to the statistics published by PROCOMER on its website, this affected exports of banana, pineapple, melon, watermelon, mango, and papaya.
Costa Rica exports remarkable volumes of all these fruits but its most important exports continue to be bananas, pineapples, and melons.
The export volume of watermelon fell 6.5% between 2014 and 2015, as it went from 34,537 tons to 32,303 tons. Moreover, there has been a decline in watermelon exports since 2011.
Melon exports fell 2.4% as it went from 130,868 tons to 127,723 tons. Papaya exports went from 4,774 tons in 2014 to 2,071 tons in 2015, i.e. a 56% decrease in exports.
Mango exports only decreased by 0.94% between 2014 and 2015. However exports have fallen from 11,577 tons in 2011 to 6,209 tons last year.
Banana and pineapple exports, the two strongest agricultural exports, had declines of 10% and 9.95% in 2015, respectively. According to producers, these decreases were due to the excessive rainfall, the price of the dollar, and to 500 small pineapple producers quitting their production.
Guelberth Delgado, the owner of the Monandel Corporation SA, an exporter of mango and papaya, said that sending a kilo of fruit from Costa Rica to Madrid by plane costs between US$2.10 and US$2.30, while exporters only pay US$1.10 in Peru. “That sums it up. Exports have decreased because we are not competitive,” he said.
He agreed with Jose Luis Araya, the regional director of the MAG in the Central Pacific, who stated that production had not decreased much.
The issue, they said, is that producers will sell more in Costa Rica and export less if they find local prices are better than export prices.
Pedro Beirute, the General Manager of PROCOMER, agreed with this but also said there had been an increase in competition from other countries.
According to the consumer price index papaya and watermelon prices had ups and downs between July 2015 and January 2016.