Tridge, the global sourcing and market intelligence hub for food buyers and suppliers, has predicted how the La Nina weather system is likely to impact tropical fruit crops – avocado, mango, and pineapple – in parts of South America, Asia, and Australasia. These predictions can help food buyers globally to mitigate the risks of La Nina on their supply chains.
La Nina is a weather phenomenon that occurs every few years including 2020. During La Nina, changes in Pacific Ocean temperatures impact tropical rainfall patterns from Indonesia to the west coast of South America.
Avocado – New Zealand could suffer where Peru could succeed
La Nina is expected to have both positive and negative effects on Avocado.
New Zealand’s avocado growers have been suffering a prolonged dry spell and eagerly awaiting rainfall for 20 months. However, the heavy rain likely because of la Nina could be detrimental to their avocado yields.
Abhishek Dudejja, Engagement Manager at Tridge New Zealand, said, “It only takes two to three days of rainfall for avocado trees suffering from water stress to recover. Although avocado trees need plenty of water, too much can quickly tip the balance and cause problems such as root rot and asphyxiation. The impacts of this include reduced yields, and smaller and lower quality fruits with a shorter shelf life.”
In contrast, Peru, with a favorable geographical and climatic condition in South America could benefit from La Nina. The colder temperatures this weather system causes could help avocados mature more effectively. Irrigation levels are also currently at the right level for a good harvest.
Cinzia Riccio, Engagement Manager at Tridge Peru, commented, “While la Nina might cause later avocado flowering than normal, the cooler temperatures that are likely should reduce the level of pests, protecting crops. On balance, Peru Avocado appears to be a winner from La Nina.”
Mango – problems expected in Peru and Southeast Asia
For Mangos, the prognosis looks poor in several regions. Prolonged dry spells in Peru, added to an already dry 2020 could impact Mango productivity and prices. In Piura, northern Peru, the country’s top mango growing region, there have been ongoing water shortages and 50 % of its reservoir is depleted.
Jin Woo Lee, Market Analyst at Tridge, said, “This year we’re expecting Peruvian mango to be at least 15 % lower than in 2019, which will increase prices.”
In Southeast Asia, Vietnam and Thailand are experiencing typhoons and facing the prospect of more heavy rain and flooding. This could cause several issues for mango crops, including decreased productivity, internal rotting, canker, and fruit fly, which could mean suspension of exports for phytosanitary reasons.
Pineapple – Costa Rica feels the dual pressures of C-19 and La Nina
Costa Rican pineapples may be scarcer than normal in importing countries such as the US due to reduced demand and supply caused by COVID-19 and la Nina combined. 86 % of US pineapple imports are from Costa Rica, valued at 616 Million USD in 2019.1
Tridge’s Jin Woo Lee said, “COVID-19 has made reefer containers for pineapple shipping to the US scarce. Added to this, heavy rainfall over the past few weeks is affecting the quality of the fruit.”
Since October 2020, Costa Rica’s principal pineapple farming regions, Alajuela and Heredia, have seen well over two and a half times average rainfall2 leading to reduced yield and quality.
One US buyer of Costa Rican pineapples commented, “pineapples are normally sold at retail with a greenish-yellow exterior, which indicates full ripeness. However, over the past month, we’ve been receiving products which are either too ripe or not ripe enough to be sold properly, as pineapples stop ripening after they are picked.”
Despite this drop in supply, export prices to the US have decreased, because COVID-19 has caused reduced demand from US buyers. Equally, the heavy rainfall worsened by la Nina is unnerving Costa Rican suppliers about the quality of their product and therefore its value.
According to Jason Kong, Operations Managers at Tridge, “12kg of Costa Rican MD-2 Pineapples were traded at $6.2 in October 2020 but now they are at $5.0.”
Hoshik Shin, CEO of Tridge, commented: “La Nina will cause a turbulent end to an already difficult year for many fruit growers. It is another reminder of why both food growers and buyers globally need to be prepared for change and disruption and be ready to adapt or switch their supply lines and routes to market quickly using digital trading platforms and expert partners. At Tridge we’re supporting an increasing volume of organisations on both sides of the food supply chain who are seeking this agility.”
2UN Seasonal Explorer: https://dataviz.vam.wfp.org/seasonal_explorer/rainfall_vegetation/visualizations#
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