Pineapple supply from the far east still remains short. If the COVID pandemic situation improves in the next few months due to the vaccination program, the demand and prices might go up again.
The winter pineapple crop in Thailand is now winding down and farmers are reportedly harvesting all the available fruit. This has resulted in sporadic quality issues and some supplies are deemed unsuitable for both canning and juicing. Ratios at the moment are down to around 15 due to higher acidity. The offers have come down a bit from December 2020, however the lower prices have been offset by a significant increase in the freight cost. Freight costs are likely to remain high for the medium term and this is a huge factor when making calculations. Processors currently prefer to offer on FOB basis as a result of this. Demand remains relatively slow, analysts say that many buyers fixed forward contracts in regions such as the Philippines when pricing was high in Thailand. Uptake of tropical juices in Europe is traditionally strong from the Southern regions and the lack of tourist trade is reportedly holding back consumption there. There is hope that trading activity will pick up in the Northern Hemisphere Spring in the run up to Summer, but it will largely depend on travel restrictions. The market is also well supplied from other regions at present and therefore analysts do not expect juice concentrate prices in Thailand to climb in the near term.
It is reportedly difficult to find labour for both the plantations and the factories in Thailand due to the extremely strict COVID restrictions in place. Whether this will impact the workforce for the Summer crop in April is unclear. Growers are also concerned about climatical conditions in south-western Thailand which has not seen any significant rainfall since November. Irrigation is almost non-existent in Thailand and a drought would lead to smaller fruit.
Nevertheless, most industry sources agree that production from the Summer crop will be better than last year. Production from both the Summer and Winter crops in 2021 is expected to register somewhere between 0.8-1.1 million tonnes, against just 0.8 million tonnes in 2020. However, analysts point out that is very difficult to make predictions on output in Thailand due to the fragmented nature of the industry. They add that a clearer picture on the Thai Summer crop will be available in late March 2021