The big four are waging a price war over pineapples, with some being sold for a third of last year's price.

Tesco has been selling whole pineapples for just 50p each this week, with Asda and Morrisons continuing to discount them at £1 each [The Grocer 33].

Morrisons has also had them on two for £1.50, and although Sainsbury's is currently selling them for £1.99, it has just come off a succession of bogof and two-for-£2.50 offers.

The flurry of promotions has reduced the average selling price for a whole pineapple in the big four to just £1.10, down from £1.45 last August. The base price excluding promotions has fallen 27% to £1.37.

Tropical fruits had been one of the big losers in the recession as consumers shied away from high price tags, said one importer and promotions had been a mixed blessing for suppliers.

High promotional activity in recent months had brought new consumers into the category, although it hadn't persuaded existing shoppers to buy more. The danger was that the category could become permanently devalued if supermarkets discounted for a prolonged period, he said.

"Prices have collapsed quite rapidly, but volumes have gone through the roof," he said. "The category has been stimulated by the promotions, but we have to reserve judgement on whether this is a good thing and see if the market can sustain these volumes in six months' time."

Another supplier said promotions were justifiable as they helped ensure consumers could still afford produce in tough economic times.

High promotional levels are expected to continue over the next two months as the Costa Rican peak season brings more fruit on to the UK market.

Although promotions put some pressure on growers, retailers generally took the brunt, added Clive Marriott, commercial manager at Fairtrade importer Agrofair. "It's a similar situation as when Asda messed with the banana price. It might drive some short-term gain but generally I find this approach daft."

Read more
Commodities: Tighter supplies push prices for fresh produce back up (27 March 2010)
Bananas are back ‘on sale’ again (9 January 2010)
Truce in sight for 'banana wars' trade dispute (18 November 2009)
Asda’s banana war costs rivals millions (3 October 2009)