This week's fresh update

MARCH 21, 2023 | Volume 8, Issue 112

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Conventional Vegetables



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Good volume in preparation for the Easter pull. Quality is very good with a good variety of sizes. The industry is turning to 28-pound packaging as production reaches the peak of the season this week. Product is expected to be available out of Mexico through April. Peruvian season is slowly starting as fields start to open. We will have product available from our farms starting in May as we close our Mexican fields and start to transition back to loading in Miami.
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Bell Peppers

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Green bell pepper is active again this week, with very limited volumes crossing from Mexico. Florida is entering new fields and we are seeing production improving from that growing region.
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Supplies have good volume out West and Mexico crossings and market reflect as much. Expect Georgia to start sometime in the next 10 days.
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Cabbage supplies are good post-holiday. Watch for Georgia to start with cabbage in the next 10 to 14 days.
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Celery supplies are stable with both regions showing good overall quality and availability. Rain in the Oxnard area is expected to delay start dates for some to early April. Celery is currently available in Oxnard, California, and Yuma, Arizona. The weather forecast calls for cool temperatures with more rain in the Oxnard region this week. Please reach out to your Robinson Fresh representative for updates and information regarding availability and promotions.
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Very strong volumes from Mexico and Florida. We expect to see strong condition and volume for the next few weeks.
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Quality and volume are good on greens. Markets are stable. Plan for Easter promotions!


Leaf Lettuce

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Iceberg and leaf lettuce are in good supply this week with excellent overall quality. Many growers are looking to promote Romaine, green leaf, and Iceberg this week. The desert region weather forecast calls for cooler temperatures with no rain forecast into the weekend. The damage from the recent heavy rains will have an impact on the northern region that is set to start production in early April. The primary loading locations are currently in Yuma and the Imperial Valley. Please reach out to your Robinson Fresh representative for any additional information and promotional opportunities.
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Volume is picking up in Florida for red and gold potatoes with reds being more abundant than golds. Quality is outstanding! Storage-crop reds and golds are still available which is putting downward pressure on the market. Light demand is keeping the Russet crop on an even keel, but supplies will get tight as we get closer to summer.



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Yellow squash continues to see condition issues as a result of poor weather in Mexico. We expect the market to remain active for one more week, with improvement in availability starting March 27th.
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Sweet Corn

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Volume is slowly picking up in Florida. There should be plenty of volume to promote for Easter. The exchange has released pricing for starting April 10th. Please call your Robinson Fresh representative to discuss.
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Conventional Fruits



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The apple market this week is showing some weakness as movement has slowed in the last several weeks. We are now seeing some prices drop a little on several varieties and there are some deals around on certain varieties for the first time this season. I expect this softer market to remain this way for at least the next three weeks as the growers try to stimulate greater movement before the import fruit begins to arrive from Chile and Argentina in mid-April.
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Mexico had a holiday on Monday, and it may be a good thing. The retail velocity seems to be slowing and importers are taking note. Retailers pushed back on the price increases and slowed their pulls on large fruit. We have seen price pull-back on most price sheets, with plenty of availability. We need to keep our inventories moving until we get used to the new equilibrium between supply and demand. We will see the pricing of smaller-program fruit approach the high end of the market over the next couple of weeks if planograms at the retail level forecast larger displays of 60s and 70s. 48s will be the kings of the size curve at 24% of the entire harvest. Smaller fruit will be available from a smaller group of growers as we enter the higher elevations, and a premium will have to be paid for access. 
UPDATE: We may not see any Peruvian fruit in the U.S. until early July. I will be at the Peruvian Avocado Commission meeting later this month and will have a better idea on dry matter and expected landing dates. 23,000 new acres are in production for the 2023 season! Expected exports into the U.S. will be increased by 85 million pounds, for a grand total of 275 million pounds (2022 total was 189 million pounds), a 45% increase. SHIP PEAK DATES ARE WEEKS 24-32. MARKET EXIT WEEK IS 39, POSSIBLY INTO WEEK 43. 
LAST WEEK, WE ONLY SHIPPED 1.6 million pounds which is 4 million LESS THAN ANTICIPATED. The current (2022) estimate of 270 million pounds was based on July 2022 surveys of handlers. The California season ended in October with approximately 272 million pounds harvested. Early estimates conducted in July 2022 indicated a crop size of about 250 million pounds. As always, weather events (heat, wind, freeze, drought, etc.) are factors that could impact the final harvested volume. SHIP PEAK DATES ARE WEEKS 12-26. MARKET EXIT WEEK IS 35. 
SHIPPED .5 million pounds, ALL PROGRAM-DRIVEN. Forecast calls for rain through March 2023. 557 orchards are requesting work plans for authorized orchards; packing houses now total 27. Columbia will focus on Europe during the winter. Road conditions and difficult access to orchards continues to be problematic. SHIP PEAK DATES ARE WEEKS 46-48. MARKET EXIT WEEK HAS NOT BEEN DETERMINED.
Dominican Republic
Dominican is SHIPPING INTO THE U.S. ONLY FOR PROGRAM PULLS! The U.S. is not the first ship-to option as Mexico volumes are greater than demand right now. We do not expect to see a steady week-to-week supply coming in from the Dominican Republic. 
The U.S. is not the first ship-to option as Mexico volumes are greater than demand right now. We do not expect to see a steady week-to-week supply coming in from Chile. Only a total of 15 million pounds is estimated to be shipped to the U.S. In comparison, the domestic market consumes 220 million pounds.


Bush Berries

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Chile is nearly done for the season with Mexico continuing to produce in limited capacity. Florida scratched last weekend but will truly start to see production increase toward the end of March. Overall blueberry supplies will remain tight until Florida gets ramped up early April. 
Tightening supplies again this week. With the way Mexico's production cycle is looking this year and not following its normal path, there may not be a high/heavy peak in production end of March into April like normal. More than likely, we will see a rounded curve production cycle that ends in June. 
Raspberries are tightening this week as more promotions are in place creating a demand-exceeds-supply situation.



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Offshore cantaloupe from Honduras and Guatemala continue to be light in supply at all ports. Sizing is heavier to 12 count in the East and Texas, with more 9 count out West. Quality and sugar are solid. Demand is weak and importers are looking to make deals.
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Weather Update
We have more rain predicted in the valley which started last night and will continue through Wednesday. Tuesday's rain is supposed to be another 1-2 inches, so a stronger storm than originally anticipated. Beyond Wednesday, we are showing at least 5 days that are dry. Weekend weather was clear so hopefully the fields were dry enough to get into and harvest. 
We are harvesting and packing in the Central Valley. Fruit sizing continues to be a struggle with peaks in 125/150/100 count. 80 count and larger will be very limited/non-existent. Quality has been excellent with a very flavorful eating profile. Movement on exports is starting to slow down considerably which should leave more volume available domestically. 
California Navels
It is peak season right now in California for quality and flavor. Due to rains, 56 count and larger have started to tighten. Overall quality has been excellent with an average brix of 12.5 to 13.5. Peak sizing available is on sizes 72/88/113 count. *** With rains, we are always concerned about clear rot. We combat this issues by making sure not to harvest wet fruit and running all items under a blue light operation which illuminate the defect. 
Cara Cara Oranges
Similar story to navels. Peak sizing 113/88 count, in that order, but 72 count and larger are becoming more available. Rains will hinder the harvesting of specialty varieties. Quality is excellent with good flavor and color. Same process will be done with the blue light to avoid clear rot. 
Texas will be finished this week. California’s Star Ruby variety has started, and quality has been excellent. Star Ruby grapefruit will go through June.
Lemons are available in two districts--Central Valley, and Ventura County (Oxnard). Good distribution on all sizes. Smaller fruit in the 165t and 200 counts are beginning to get tighter which will create a small gap in pricing when compared to larger fruit (95/115/140 counts). Meyer lemons are still available. 
California Mandarins
Loading in the Central Valley. Peaking on sizes 32/28/36, in that order. Quality has been excellent and are some of the best we have seen this year thus far! This is definitely time to push California fruit from a quality standpoint! The rain has not impacted the end date of California mandarins which we are projecting to be at the end of May. 
Moroccan Mandarins
Loading in the Northeast. Fruit quality has been perfect, and we are comfortably into the Nordacott and W. Murcott varieties. Sizing is a good distribution across the board. Fruit is starting to become tighter on availability as we start to wind down on the season. We are projecting last arrivals to be April 17th.
Available in the Central Valley, peaking on small sizes 88/113/138. 
Very limited due to rain.



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Arrivals are already starting to slow down to the U.S. for both Chilean and Peruvian fruit. This will begin to drive up the spot markets possibly by the end of this week. In the next 5 days or so, shippers will begin to analyze what they will hold onto for contract and program business needed to get through April and the beginning of May. With Mexico still looking pushed back to at least mid-May, we could be looking at a possible gap, especially on greens.
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Honeydew supplies continue to be light out of Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico. Sizing is a mix between 5/6 counts. Mexican honeydew are clean with good sugar, while the offshore honeydew have cleaned up and are looking good as well, along with good sugar. Light supply is expected through the remainder of the season.
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Region: Veracruz, Mexico 
Currently, the crop is peaking on 230/250/200s. The forecast is showing lower than normal temperatures; the temperature will influence the growth of limes on the trees. The demand for limes has been moderate. According to the USDA, the crossings through Texas from last week were at 421; on Monday, the report shows 37 crossings from the weekend. Sizing profile is peaking on sizes 230/250/200. Size distribution is 110-7%, 150-9%, 175-19%, 200-21%, 230-22%, and 250-22%. The quality of the limes is good, especially the smaller limes. The shelf life for the larger limes is much shorter, currently. Looking ahead, expect to continue to see small size limes available.



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As we enter week 12, we finish our Peruvian season for the year. We continue to ship the majority of our Mexican mangos from Oaxaca and we're starting Michoacan in the next week. Supplies out of Oaxaca have been increasing week over week and we're expecting large volume in April. Peak sizing from this region is between 6-8s, followed by 9s, with very few 10/12s. Michoacan has been delayed from the start of the 2023 Mexico season, with weather delaying the crop for harvest. Michoacan has started packing Honey mangos, peaking on 16/18s, with few 20/22s. We expect reds to be available closer to April, with minimal supply before then.
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Yields for papaya are improving with some surplus fruit on larger counts. Availability is still on 6s, 7s, and 8s, but 9s, 12s, 14s, and 16s are very tight with little to NO extra fruit. Conditions will improve by early April on smaller counts as weather cooperates with the crop. There is availability for transactional sales on larger fruit. Papaya availability within the U.S. market is still low but we expect better conditions as we get closer to April. Majority of sizes are between 6s, 7s, 8s, with some 12s, but not abundant. Quality is reported as good with fruit showing less speckling and very little scarring. Forecast is for tight supply until the end of March for the U.S. market. There's still NOT enough supply to service demand.

We are currently shipping Anjou, Bosc, and red pears out of the Northwest this week. The Anjou are the best value and prices have stabilized with good supplies on all sizes. I expect this to hold steady for the next month. The Bosc pears are much pricier this year due to a smaller crop. Prices are remaining firm and will probably rise slightly as we progress through the season. Bartlett pears have finished out of the Northwest but there are now good quantities of import Bartlett pears arriving at East Coast ports. Expect these imports to increase as we get deeper into March.
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Quality of the fruit is reported as good with clean internal and high brix levels for both Costa Rica and Mexico. Stable weather over all growing regions of Costa Rica continues to help the crop and increase overall yields. For Mexican pines, similar conditions as last week with NO rain in the forecast which is helping the crop and keeping the fruit clean with higher brix. Some longer crowns than usual have been reported but all within the standard. Yields are slightly better for Mexican pines with 6s and 7s being the most abundant, including some 5s in the forecast. Quality of the fruit is reported as good with good brix and good internal condition. Mexico's inbound volume for week 10 as reported by USDA is a similar number at 35 loads crossing for the entire U.S. The USDA’s total pineapple crossing report for week 10 is showing a low number of inbounds at just above 1,000 loads crossing for the entire continental U.S. Volume is slightly below last week and is significantly lower to that seen at this same time last year at almost 1,200 loads for that same week in 2022. Market is steady with good demand, but less volume could impact the market as we get closer to the Easter pull. The USDA is reporting demand as MODERATE and market about steady.



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Product availability is very limited In the California growing regions due to cold weather and showers. Baja is limited this week due to showers and Central Mexico and Florida expect to finish within the next couple of weeks. Santa Maria, California, is forecast on Wednesday for occasional rain and thunderstorms; Thursday and Friday to be partly sunny, breezy, and cool; becoming sunny and cool for the weekend. Highs are forecast in the 50s and lows in the 40s. Oxnard, California, is forecast Wednesday for some rain and thunderstorms, and then mostly sunny and cool for the balance of the week. Highs are expected in the mid-50s on Wednesday, increasing to the high 50s to low 60s for the balance of the week, and lows in the 40s. California fruit is fair quality, firm, some inconsistently sized berries, occasional bruising, misshapen, green tip, bronzing, rain damage, and white shoulders. Baja fruit has white shoulders and bruising.
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Watermelons are a little tight. We have consistent supplies shipping from Southern Mexico, out of Edinburg, Texas, and Nogales, Arizona. Our seedless out East are coming from Yucatan, Mexico. The quality has been good out of Mexico. Southern Florida will start harvesting domestic melons and supplies should pick up around mid-April.
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Organic Fruits & Vegetables


Organic Apples

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We are now shipping all varieties of organic apples including organic Gala, Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Fuji, and Pink Lady apples. Due to the crop being smaller this year, the pricing on all organic varieties is higher than last year and we expect these higher prices to last for the entire season. At this point, it appears that the organic Gala and organic Granny will be the tightest this season. Expect pricing on the organic Gala and organic Granny to inch up as we progress through 2023. The quality of the fruit is reported to be good so far.
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Organic Dry Vegetables

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Weather is warming up, but some items are still limited. There will be a gap with butternut and Delicata hard squash. There is volume with acorn and spaghetti has a new crop. Roma’s are now available. There are some volume deals this week on Eggplant. Zucchini fancy is available and yellow squash is still very limited with high prices on fancy. Colored bells are starting to improve, but green bells are limited. 
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Organic Melons

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Organic minis are done until late April out West.
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Organic Onions

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Organic onion market remains solid. There is more pressure on onions out of the Northwest with Mexico and California looking like they will have a late start. Quality is currently excellent on the red, yellow, and white onions and there are some deals to be made.
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Organic Pears

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Organic Anjou pears are now shipping out of Washington State and Oregon. The quality of the fruit is very good this season and we don't expect to see any issues as we progress through the crop. Expect the organic Anjous out of the Northwest to finish for the season around mid-April this year. There is now imported organic Bartletts arriving into the Eastern ports this week. They have both larger wrapped fruit as well as 2-pound bags available. Expect these imported Bartletts to be available until May 1st.
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Organic Potatoes

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Russet potatoes have started to get tight. Supply out of the Northwest and Colorado is tight. Storage is running out and we are a long ways away from California starting; although, Supply on red and yellow potatoes is plentiful. There are currently deals to be had on reds and yellows out of Colorado.
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Organic Squash

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Hard squash remains hit and miss on certain varieties. Out of Nogales, you can find almost all varieties but there are days of no supply. Butternut, spaghetti, and acorn remain solid in pricing. Get your orders in advance to assure supply!
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Organic Sweet Potatoes

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Sweet potatoes continue to remain strong in pricing especially for this time of year. If you are looking to promote sweet potatoes for Easter, now is the time to get pricing locked! Supply is solid on all varieties right now with all sizes still available. Quality is outstanding!
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Temperature-Controlled Shipping 
The temperature-controlled marketplace is continuing its national trend of slowing demand in Q1, resulting in a competitive capacity market that leads to attractive pricing and readily accessible capacity ahead of produce season. 
Early Produce Season Insights
Inflation has influenced consumer buying behaviors this year as we enter produce season in the Southeast and parts of Southern California. In a typical produce season when the economy is in balance, the harvest is what dictates demand. However, when markets are in flux and inflation is ever-present, it is more the consumer buying patterns and retail expectations that drive demand. Harvests are healthy this year due to stable weather patterns and all signs point to retailers, especially the big box/discount retailers, having normal/anticipated demand and a strong produce season. In past cycles where consumer spending is stressed due to economic factors, produce buying tends to shift to canned goods as an alternative. Thus far, the market is not showing this shift materialize and demand remains for fresh commodities and produce. C.H. Robinson's Voice of the Grower insights suggest a good early produce season in the South with strong volumes. With the loose to balanced market in the early days of the 2023 produce season, the market can expect to experience the influence of produce season, but it is unlikely that there will be a material spike in market tension.


Global Updates 

USA Ocean Port Congestion
The contributing factors of port congestion lie with labor disruptions, larger capacity vessels, chassis shortages, container shortages, infrastructure shortfalls, consignee receiving limitations, terminal inefficiencies, trucking industry shortages, and limitations of data analytics of true cargo readiness. U.S. congestion has improved at ports going into 2023. The congestion for the U.S. West Coast and the Los Angeles/Long Beach ports has dramatically improved with on average less than 10 vessels waiting outside to berth. The overall current congestion levels in the U.S. are expected to remain stable. 
Ocean Carrier Consolidation
Fresh produce growers and shippers attempting to move cargo globally via ocean vessels are dealing with scenarios where ocean carriers genuinely dictate some markets. They dictate and determine the marketability and viability of export markets for many fresh produce exporters. Shippers are being forced to commit earlier to ocean lines their space demands for upcoming seasons and spot market space on vessels is nearly impossible to secure. 
Container Gridlock
The result is chronic gridlock at many Latin American and United States ports. Ships are stranded offshore for possibly days to sometimes weeks at a time. Drayage truckers often sit in line for hours upon hours "hoping" for a chance to pick up the freight they have been dispatched to return to the port for export or deliver to the warehouse for consumption into the retain supply chain.
Impact on Imports and Exports
The impact is not just with imports; it is with exports as well. A significant amount of U.S. exports are agriculture related. With these exports, some are perishable; and with delays resulting from cargo constraints or delayed bookings, not only does this jeopardize the quality of the product but also U.S. global market share and competitiveness. Many export associations are revealing data demonstrating where their industry is losing global market share as they cannot complete orders. Services to east coast South America ports have reduced capacity by approximately 25% and blank sailings to west coast South America ports have increased to approximately 32% of capacity because of space constraints and severe congestion at the trans-shipment hubs. 
Refrigerated Vessel Capacity
Vessel demand and overall capacity issues are beginning to improve moving into the winter "peak season" months. The lack of vessel space 2020 through 2022 was primarily caused by vessel delays and container turnaround taking capacity out of the market. Demand is finally slowing, and vessel delays improving, which are combining to improve capability (reported first in June 2022). Booking SPACE on board certain vessels remains challenging; there remains chassis shortages, new surcharges from ocean carriers like "peak season surcharges" are now being added or increased, and labor shortages in logistics continue to impact the entire global produce logistics sector. Robinson Fresh is currently learning of tight capacity and lack of space on vessels from Peru to California. Shippers negotiating with ocean carriers or freight forwarders on perishable cargo contracts should request as much free time at destination as possible to reduce the risk of detention/demurrage charges when inspections/fumigations or drayage capacity constraints delay cargo delivery at destination. Robinson Fresh has experienced unavoidable and unprecedented demurrage and detention charges due to delays in turning cargo at destination in 2022. 
Refrigerated Container Rates
While demand for shipping ocean containers has lessened in the majority of global trade lanes over the past few months, that's not the case for all markets. For example, South and Central America trade lanes for refrigerated cargo continue to experience high demand. The elevated rates Latin America to the U.S. for refrigerated cargo are expected to remain at their 2022 levels well into 2023. Shippers should watch for "peak season" and fluctuating fuel surcharges which are added to high rates and which ocean carriers are slow to remove. Delays can also be costly in terms of extra demurrage/detention. 

For more global freight insights, please visit Global Freight Market Insights | C.H. Robinson (

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Fresh from the kitchen

Pineapple Crisp

Add some fresh sweetness to this crispy, crumbly dessert. Super easy to put together, the juiciness of the pineapple is perfect when served warm with ice cream. 

  • 2 (20 ounce) cans crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Spread well-drained pineapple into a 9x9 inch square baking pan.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and egg until smooth.
  4. Spoon mixture evenly over pineapple. 
  5. Pour melted butter over mixture and then sprinkle with cinnamon.
  6. Bake in preheated oven 40–45 minutes. Serve hot or let cool.

Link here for additional information.

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