The company’s Costa Rican-grown pineapples are becoming increasing popular on the European market

Jalaram A

Family-owned Jalaram Fruit is seeing strong demand for its High Colour pineapples. The premium pineapple is harvested later, allowing it to ripen for longer and giving it its distinctly sweet flavour and yellow colour.

According to Suraj Thakrar, the business performed very well last year due to an increase in demand across the tropical fruit category. “Costa Rican pineapples have fared well against other pineapple growing countries and have maintained consistent supply and quality to consumers globally,” he tells Fruitnet. “With the increased production of our farm, Finca Isha, we have been able to capture more of the European market.”

He says High Colour pineapples are becoming a growing niche in the market. “We see growth opportunities for High Colour fruit sent by sea. This is a difficult product to handle due to the limited shelf-life, but it provides the consumer with a heightened taste experience with higher brix, excellent flavour and a generally incredible eating experience.”

With other tropical products like mangoes suffering from supply issues, Thakrar believes pineapples are enjoying something of a renaissance due to their 52-week supply, which allows consumers to enjoy that tropical fruit experience all year round.

At the same time, demand for crownless pineapples is also growing. They are typically sold for use in the fresh-cut segment to consumer who value convenience over cost. Thakrar says consumption in this category is also increasing as people become more aware of the health benefits of pineapples, especially their high levels of vitamin C and the enzyme bromelain, which contributes towards improved gut health.

“We are also finding that consumers who don’t know how to cut a pineapple find it easier to purchase prepared, fresh-cut pineapples which also reduces food waste,” he says.

For 2024, he expects volumes to be lower in 2024 and prices higher than in previous years due to a combination of factors including extreme weather patterns and the rising cost of agrochemicals.

“This is something that is affecting Costa Rica in particular due to the exchange rate – the Costa Rican Colón has strengthened against the dollar, pushing up dollar-related expenses,” he explains.

Thakrar puts part of the reason for Jalaram’s growth down to the service it offers its customers. “We are third generation growers promoting responsible practices, consistent supply and quality. This has been our value proposition for the last 14 years. Our customers have access to real time information on what’s happening on the ground in Costa Rica and benefit from our ability to be flexible and make things happen at short notice,” he explains.

Pineapples have come under considerable scrutiny recently for the environmental impact of large-scale production in Costa Rica but Thakrar says the situation in the country is well regulated by the government, certifying bodies and even retail customers.

“Pineapples appear at the bottom of the list of pesticide use when growing fruit and vegetable products in studies carried out,” he points out. “The Costa Rican pineapple industry is mature and Costa Rica is extremely environmentally responsible with strict regulations to protect the environment.”