Tropical fruits set sail to colder climates

Costa Rica is the world’s largest exporter of pineapples and the trade is facilitated by exports through APM Terminals Moín

By Penny Thomas

July 23, 2021

In transit blog_moin_terminal

APM Terminals’ Moín facility in Costa Rica was completed in 2019. Credit: Fernando Cruz del Barco/ MarineTraffic

Costa Rica’s tropical climate makes it ripe for the mass production of pineapples to worldwide markets. According to World’s Top Exports it was by far the biggest exporter of the fruit in 2020, with a market share of around 44%. The Central America country was followed by the Philippines, representing 15% of market share, which in turn is followed, surprisingly, by the Netherlands with a share of 9%.The Dutch may well enjoy the fruit, but most of the pineapples imported into the Netherlands are destined for export to the rest of Europe. 

According to the same source, the Netherlands exported 7.8% of the world’s pineapples last year, and is the second biggest exporter after the US, whose ports handled nearly a third of exports. 

It is likely that Rotterdam, the biggest port in Europe, will handle significant volumes of the region’s pineapples.

With such plentiful volumes of fruit to share with the world, Costa Rica awarded a 33 year concession to APM Terminals to build and operate a container terminal at its port at Moín on the east coast. The facility opened in 2019 and not only exports fruit in reefer containers, but also handles containers for other exports including, as well as capturing some transhipment trade from vessels too big to transit Panama Canal.

The purpose-built container terminal is APMT’s newest greenfield project in its portfolio and is built on reclaimed land.

MarineTraffic LiveMap

Vessels currently operating in and around Central America. Moín is situated on Costa Rica’s east coast. Credit: MarineTraffic

APM Terminals facility is part of the Public Port Complex of Costa Rica in the Caribbean. There are other small terminals managed by the state and each terminal is dedicated to exclusive cargo management.

An APMT spokesperson told MarineTraffic that reefer containers are the main exports for Costa Rica and that the country is recognised for being the number one exporter of pineapples.

“The National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (INEC) released a preliminary report showing that bananas and pineapples together represented 16.2% of the total value exported by Costa Rica during 2020,” said the spokesperson.

There are also plans to expand the terminal. Two further phases will be triggered when the terminal handles more than one million containers a year, and “all three phases must be completed within the 33 years of concession,” confirmed the spokesperson.

Containership departures from the the APM terminal in Costa Rica

It is early days for the terminal. According to MarineTraffic data 2,136 container vessels (including reefers) have departed from the terminal since it started operating in 2019. Of this number, 471 vessels were destined for US ports, notably 126 vessels to Wilmington on the east coast and Port Everglades on the southeast coast in the Caribbean.

With regards to Europe, Antwerp received 82 vessels from the AMPT Moín facility, and very surprisingly only 20 were destined for Rotterdam, reveals MarineTraffic data.

The most popular destination for container ships departing the port, however, is the west coast of Mexico port of Manzanillo. Over the past two years, around 507 vessels, nearly a quarter of the overall figure, sailed to the Pacific Ocean port.

Last year was the terminal’s busiest to date with 1,300 vessels departing, and 2021 could turn out to be a promising year with over 500 ships having left the port to date. According to online publication Fresh Plaza, “In the twelve weeks leading up to 7 April, the Mintec price of Costa Rican pineapples rose by 14%. This rise can be attributed to steady exports, following the gradual re-opening of the global economy and easing of lockdown restrictions. Costa Rican pineapple exports rose by 9% in January and February 2021 respectively, compared to the same period in the previous year.”

Noting that whilst North America and Europe are big importers of the fruit, it added that volumes to China have also increased in recent years.

It says: “ says that reports suggest that Costa Rican exports to China have risen over the last few months, with more recent trade supported by the recent Chinese ban on Taiwanese pineapples, which took effect on the 1 March 2021”.

It is early days yet for the APMT’s interests in Moín, but with new cultivation techniques being introduced into Costa Rica’s pineapple growing industry and new markets in China, it seems likely that the Moín development will see it’s full potential.

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Penny Thomas

Penny Thomas

Penny Thomas is Account Manager at London based public relations agency, Navigate PR

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