Pineapple

INFOCOMM - COMMODITY PROFILE
PINEAPPLE

Pineapple: Ananas comosus (L.) Merr. of the Bromeliaceae family

 

The pineapple plant is a herbaceous perennial with a short, stout stem and a rosette of waxy, strap-like leaves, two and a half to five feet high with a spread of three to four feet. Pineapple fruits are essentially the product of enclosed fused florets of an inflorescence.   Each of the individual “fruit lets” can be identified by the roughly rectangular markings on the fruit surface. The fruit has scaly green, brown or yellow skin and is topped by a crown of spiny blue-green leaves.  The flesh of the pineapple is juicy and yellow to white in color. Pineapple the commodity is traded primarily as the fresh fruit although the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), as part of its commodity listings, also recognizes pineapple juice concentrate with not less than 27% fruit solids by weight and canned fruit pulp in water or syrup.

 

There are more than 100 varieties, but only 6 to 8 of them are cultivated commercially. These include varieties from the Cayena group including the commercially highly successful MD2 variety. The MD2 is a hybrid pineapple with a golden skin color when mature.  The pulp is sweeter with lower fiber and acidity, although it can contain as much as four times more vitamin C than regular varieties. It has a nine day longer post harvest shelf life of 30 days when compared to other varieties and it is able to survive in cold storage for up to 2 weeks.  It was originally introduced in Costa Rica and has now become the standard variety for most large pineapple producers in Latin America and Asia.  

 

Pineapples contribute to over 20 % of the world production of tropical fruits and as a crop are second only to bananas as the most important harvested fruit.  Most of the pineapple harvested is consumed as fresh fruit in the country of production. Ninety percent of the world demand for fresh pineapple originates in twelve countries.  The US leads the demand and France, Japan, Belgium, Italy, Germany, Canada, Spain, England, Korea, Netherlands and Singapore share the rest of the supply.  Throughout the growth period of the crop there are several labor-intensive operations that necessitate a large workforce.

These tasks include land preparation, planting, fertilizing, pesticide spraying, harvesting and packing

 

Soil types and preparation

 

Pineapple grows best in a friable, well-drained sandy loam with high organic matter content and a pH within a range of 4.5 to 6.5.  Cropping systems require tillage to a depth of at least 30 cm to facilitate root penetration and good drainage.  Whilst Pineapple production is usually confined to altitudes below 800 meters above sea level, the crop has been reportedly grown in Malaysian orchards as high as 2400 meters. At altitudes higher than 1000 meters smaller fruit are produced, the pulp has elevated tartness, less attractive color and reduced flavor.   

 

Although the crop grows well at temperatures between 20 to 30°C, optimum production is achieved at 23 - 24°C. When ambient temperature drops to 10-16° C, fruit growth is retarded although plants may stand sub-freezing temperatures for very short periods. Conversely, exposure to temperatures well over 30 °C may lead to increased metabolism respiration rate and, and impaired nutrient absorption.  The time from culturing to harvest depends on the cultivar and the climate of the growing region. Production sites near the Equator may require 12 months, whereas in sub-tropical areas, this period may extend for up to 36 months.  Raised beds are the preferred planting surface due to the increased volume of topsoil available to the root system, improved aeration and enhanced drainage.

 

Crop growth and nutrition

The crop growing period can be manipulated by selecting the appropriate planting material viz. suckers, slips, shoots and crowns.  Each of these vegetative propagules takes specific lengths of time to yield marketable fruit. Normally the “plant crop”, as in the propagules established in the cropping cycle, is followed by one ratoon or volunteer crop. Although successive crops will continue to bear fruits, quality rapidly declines after the first ratoon. The period from planting to harvest of the “plant crop” is 1 to 2 years and of the ratoon crop 9 months to 18 months, depending on planting material, early husbandry and climate.

Optimal growth of pineapples is contingent on the identification and realignment of the factors that directly or indirectly determine the uptake and utilization of nutrients.  Data on soil pH and the attendant levels of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Aluminum and Manganese is critical in determining the type and quantity of fertilizers to be incorporated. The crop is usually fertilized four times during the vegetative cycle of 18 months with formulations based on Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium.

 

An important aspect of crop husbandry is the induction of flowering using hormone sprays (calcium carbide, ethephon or Ethrel) at the appropriate time to suit the production cycle. Flower initiation is more uniform as a result of hormone sprays than that induced by low temperature or water deficit.

 

 

 

Crop Protection

 

The most serious and ubiquitous disease of pineapples is Pineapple Mealybug Wilt (PMW); this closteroviral disease is vectored by ant-protected mealy bugs.  PMW is characterized by leaf reddening, general wilting and leaf tip dieback that can lead to eventual plant death. Other diseases may include pink disease caused by the bacterium (Pantoea citrea) and the fungal diseases Heart and root rot (Phytophthora cinnamomi) Heart rot (P. parasitica) Root rot (Pythium  spp.) and Anthracnose (Colletrotrichum sp).

The pests most likely to attack pineapple plants are mealybugs, scale insects and mites. Several Integrated Pest Management protocols have been developed to restrict pest and disease episodes in commercial operations including the use of cultural practices to reduce weeds and ant infestations.

 

Harvest and post harvest

Size and color of the fruit, as well as the soluble sugar content (Brix) are the main criteria used to determine when the fruit is ripe and ready for harvest. An accurate determination of ripeness is necessary because a pineapple will never become any riper than it was when harvested, though a fully ripe pineapple can bruise and rot quickly. 

 

Harvesting of pineapples and the subsequent field sorting is done manually. Separation of mature fruits from the plant involves breaking them off and stacking at the edge of the field. Transportation is by truck and depending on the size of individual fruits, 50 to 80 dozens may be stacked in crates with the crowns placed downwards for cushioning.

 

Packaging and transport

Pineapples can rapidly develop "pressure sores" under their own weight and as such they are not generally packaged on their sides.   Pineapples are packed upright in perforated telescopic cartons designed to accommodate a dozen fruits separated by removable inserts.  Transport of pineapples for export is via refrigerated trucks or containers. Transit times are calculated so that fruit are at the optimal ripening conditions just before reaching the consumers. Due to its impact- and pressure-sensitivity, pineapples have to be handled with appropriate care. Spaces between stacks of crates or laden pallets must be filled to prevent tipping or slippage. The required refrigeration temperature must always be maintained, even during cargo handling.

                                 

International marketing arrangements

 

Minimum order size is usually 20 metric tons, Packed in 13kg gross weight Sizes: where  Big translates to 5,6, pieces per box net weight of 12kg Small: 7,8 pieces per box net weight of 12 kg, 1500 boxes per container and shipped inside refrigerated reefer containers.

 

A decade ago, a country’s successful pineapple export sector required a stable Government with respect to trade facilitation through a well-maintained transportation network, efficient Port and Customs operations, State agricultural systems that monitor quarantine and other legislation, and social safety net programs for workers.  An appropriate growing climate, arable land, good logistical connections with respect to ports and carriers, and relative proximity to the target market were also considered to be important components.  In 2011, the commercial export of pineapples requires a modernized, structured supply chain. A private sector focused legal and regulatory environment that assures stringent rules on food quality and safety are also requisite.  Policy formulation must be integrated across sectors as a fillip to overall competitiveness. 

 

The global food industry continues to experience cost pressure and aggressive competition. Consolidation of retailers in export markets effectively reduced the number of buyers and increased supplier competition. High levels of concentration in retail means that suppliers must provide products that are low cost and high quality. Being price-competitive is essential to the success of all players in the value chain.

 

According to the FAO and the Export-Import Bank of India, the demand for healthy and organically produced pineapples is expected to increase considerably over the next 10 years. Generally, the growth rate of organic markets is significantly higher than that of conventional markets, and that should hold true for the organic pineapple market too, demand currently outstrips supply. Retailers increasingly demand organic pineapples of the MD2 type.

 

The evolution of the world market for fresh pineapples also reflects the fierce battle that takes place between global agro-food giants. A new driver seems to be gaining strength, as firms awaken to the advantages of using private standards as a strategic tool and to reassure anxious consumers. This is evidenced through the explosion of private and business-to-business standards aimed at guaranteeing the quality/safety of food products. Varietal, logistical and standard-related innovations play a crucial role in shaping the world pineapple market, and determine in producer countries those who will be able to supply and who will not.

 

The supermarkets and retailers, with their leverage and influence over what variety is imported, define the market for pineapple in Europe.  When the big chains in Europe began demanding MD2, which was grown primarily in Costa Rica, instead of smooth cayenne, which was grown in Ghana and elsewhere, the industry as a whole shifted. The increased importation of MD2 in to the European Union is reflected in average annual pineapple import growth of 12 percent, from 317,478 tons valued at €233 million in 2000 to 873,936 tonnes valued at €555 million in 2008.

 

Worldwide Production and international sales of pineapple

 

Brazil, Thailand, The Philippines, Costa Rica and China are the leading producers of pineapples worldwide. Only about 30% of worldwide production is exported, the most significant importers of pineapples are the United States, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy.  Notably the major direct exporters of pineapples by volume are Costa Rica, the Philippines, Ecuador, Ivory Coast, Panama and Honduras.  Belgium, the Netherlands and the United States are the biggest re-exporters of pineapples.

 

 

 

   Table 1.   Major Pineapple Producers as at 2008 (FAOSTAT)

 

Country

Production (metric tons)

% of world total

Brazil

2,491,974

12.93%

Thailand

2,278,566

11.82%

The Philippines

2,209,336

11.46%

Costa Rica

1,678,125

8.70%

China

1,402,060

7.27%

 

Table 2.  Major Pineapple importers as at 2010 compared with 2008 (COMTRADE)

 

Country

Pineapple imports (metric tons) in 2008

2008 Imports (value)

Pineapple imports (metric tons) in 2010

2010

Imports (value)

United States

484,155

531,854,092

815,872

585,166,992

Belgium

312,213

296,772,875

258,913

209,453,743

The Netherlands

209,139

204,235,578

N/A

N/A

Germany   

173,060

187,256,000

183,324

179,064,177

Italy

149,559

144,958,789

142,059

122,086,326

 

Table 3. Major Pineapple exporters 2008-2010 (FAOSTAT/COMTRADE)

 

Country

Worldwide Pineapple exports (metric tons)

2008

2009

2010

Costa Rica

1,458,980

1,112,091

1,677,702

The Philippines

261,338

N/A

N/A

Belgium

234,123

273,012

230,525

The Netherlands

216,131

155,555

N/A

United States

90,512

88,108

99,075

Figure 1 Map of major pineapple export flows as at 2008

 

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Figure 2  Map of major pineapple export flows from Costa Rica as at 2010

 

 

2010 costa rica pineapple.tiff

Figure 3 Map of major pineapple export flows from ACP countries 2009-2010

 

ACP exports.jpg

Table 4 Pineapple exporting ACP countries trade flows by route and volume

 

Pineapple Exporting Country/Route #

Importing country

Quantity imported (kg)

Dominican Republic          1

USA

415,072

2

Netherlands

439,580

3

Italy

1,146,273

Ivory Coast                      4

Belgium

23,266,374

5

UK

4,602,470

6

France

357,049

South Africa                      7

Netherlands

721,392

8

Saudi Arabia

429,149

9

United Arab Emirates

443,896

 

Table 5.  Pineapple exports as at 2008 by ACP countries

 

Country/Region

Quantity (tons)

Value (1000   $)

Unit value ($/ton)

Ghana

17819

6260

351

Cameroon

10434

9610

921

Belize*  

96

360

3750

Kenya *

94682

75760

800

Ivory Coast

69201

29110

421

Eastern Africa*

95659

76070

795

Middle Africa

10437

9613

921

*pineapple juice

 

 

 

Price Fluctuations

Price elasticity of demand for pineapples has been demonstrated by the recorded shift in consumer preference from one tropical fruit to another if prices are subject to sudden increases. In local markets the changes in availability influence the price movements. In May 2011 the Economic Times of India reported that wholesale pineapple prices dropped from 100 -350 Rupees per dozen to 60- 200 Rupees per dozen. That movement was ascribed to a bumper local crop and the availability of other fruits.

The international pineapple market is fairly homogenous with one dominant variety, and prices that are relatively uniform across fruit sizes and qualities.  As was the case of the MD2 variety, once significant market entry was achieved the focus shifted to price and/or quality-based competition, especially as a second generation of countries made efforts to gain access. After the expiry of patent protection in 2003, the resulting brisk upward trend in MD2 pineapple supplies in the US and Europe induced a price fall.  The most recent COMTRADE data shows declining wholesale prices in the European Union and the United States whilst volumes have been increasing.  Increasing sea freight rates have also put pressure on the import prices of commodities such as pineapples.

Considerable freight forwarding or re-exporting is facilitated by Belgium and the Netherlands. In developing countries, poor infrastructure, transport and communication services give rise to large marketing margins because of the high costs of delivering the locally produced commodity to the border for export.  There are significant variations in the worldwide export prices; producers in developing countries earn less than re-exporters in Europe. The Guardian (UK) reported in 2010 that pineapples leave Costa Rica at an average of 40 cents per kilo but by the time those shipments of pineapples come to be logged in the main importing countries for Europe of Belgium, Holland and Germany, the price has increased to 83 cents per kilo in Belgium, and up to $1.14 in the Netherlands.

Figure 4. Price fluctuations of Pineapple exports from Costa Rica and the Philippines $US/tone  

 

Figure 5  Mean Price of pineapple imports in the EU27 and USA by source (COMTRADE)

Issues in the export trade of pineapples

There are several issues surrounding the international trade of pineapples. In the country of production there may be concerns about unhealthy and unsafe worker conditions, insufficient income and income insecurity, lack of freedom of association, unreasonable working hours, water mismanagement and contamination, unsafe field practices, and ecosystem degradation. Consumers in the importing countries are sensitive to environmental breaches and unfair treatment of workers. Hence adherence to organic principles, or established standards as espoused by Fairtrade, has become the benchmark.

 

The implementation of Fairtrade and organic systems can initiate or boost export sales.  In 2005, Ghanaian pineapple producer and exporter Blue Skies obtained Fair Trade certification for exports of organic fresh-cut Sugarloaf pineapples. Blue Skies immediately shipped 1200 boxes of fair-trade fruit to the Netherlands, to be marketed by Dutch retailer Royal Ahold. The fair-trade label meant a five-fold increase in income for Blue Skies’ farmers. In 2005, their pineapples sold for US$0.20 per kilo, with an extra five-cent premium for community projects such as, inter alia, the provision of clean drinking water and the physical extension of classrooms. Fair Trade producer prices, as monitored by the Fairtrade Labeling Organization, have been consistently higher than those offered for conventional pineapples.

 

Pineapple production and export in ACP countries 

The following Table indicates the levels of production in ACP countries.

 

Table 6.  Pineapple production in ACP countries as at 2008 (FAOSTAT)

 

ACP Country

Pineapple Production (metric tons)

Angola

41906

Antigua and Barbuda

234

Democratic Republic of Congo (Kinshasa)

198390

Cook Islands

28

Cote d'Ivoire

160000

Dominican Republic

100528

Fiji

3506

Ghana

70000

Guinea

109000

Jamaica

20351

Kenya

339850

Liberia

8195

Madagascar

51000

Mauritius

6393

Papua New Guinea

18751

St. Kitts and Nevis

69

Samoa

4500

Seychelles

107

Swaziland

17047

Trinidad and Tobago

6279

The large multinational growers dominate worldwide trade in pineapples with operations in Latin America and Asia. Most of the pineapples grown in the Caribbean and the Pacific Islands originate on small farms with less than optimal supply chains. Smallholders are generally engaged in a different value chain from more commercial farmers. The latter may be linked to large processing and retailing firms, commodity exchanges, chilled storage facilities and supermarket retailers, sometimes with transnational firm ownership.  Commercial farmers have accessible market information; large transaction volumes, well-specified grades and standards, and legal systems that accommodate more sophisticated contracting arrangements. This contrasts with the more informal chains in which smallholders are typically involved and which are characterized by spot market transactions, small percentages of production sold off the farm, weak road and communications infrastructure, weak information systems and limited coordination between input delivery, credit and sales.

 

 

With the exception of Belize, none of the Caribbean States have significant exports of pineapple, although many produce a small percentage of their domestic need. Several of the African States within the ACP such as Ivory Coast, Ghana and Kenya export pineapples.  The major ACP exporters listed in the COMTRADE database are listed in Table   . The mean price per tone obtained by ACP exporters in the period 2008-2010 shows a remarkable range and is attributable in large measure to choice of market, seasonality, cultivar, mode of transportation and supply chain management.

 

 

 

 

Table 7 ACP Exports of Pineapples 2008-2010

 

Country/Year

Quantity (kg)

Value (US $)

Mean Unit value ($/ton)

Ivory Coast - 2008

69,200,511

28,882,194

 $417.37

Ivory Coast - 2009

54,443,449

21,538,085

 $395.60

Kenya-2008

224,901

387,921

 $1,724.85

Kenya-2009

51,635

53,443

 $1,035.02

South Africa-2008

2,793,522

2,943,681

 $1,053.75

South Africa -2009

5,076,138

2,966,428

 $584.39

South Africa- 2010

2,553,829

3,822,881

 $1,496.92

Tanzania-2008

903,305

95,598

 $105.83

Tanzania-2009

385,953

65,008

 $168.44

Tanzania-2010

358,355

95,979

 $267.83

Dominican Republic -2008

581,291

432,460

 $743.96

Dominican Republic -2009

2,143,830

1,402,695

 $654.29

Dominican Republic -2010

3,822,630

2,600,992

 $680.42

Guyana -2008

306,511

124,973

 $407.73

Guyana -2009

317,726

112,056

 $352.68

Guyana -2010

554,999

148,917

 $268.32

Trinidad & Tobago - 2008

152,508

128,760

 $844.28

Trinidad & Tobago - 2009

181,753

151,620

 $834.21

The European Union Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) has provisions for ACP producers to explore the market opportunities in the European Economic Area, which is the European Free Trade Association comprising four European countries and those of the EU.

 

The EPA lists, for example, that “Pineapple exporters in Ghanacan rest assured their business environment won’t be upset by any unilateral decision. Greater predictability means they can safely invest more in processing and marketing their fruit. No worries for farmers in the Caribbean– 75% of EU agricultural products will still face import tariffs, and the other 25% will not see duty-free competition start for another 10-25 years

The market domination by large-scale operations in Costa Rica and the Philippines makes it difficult for smaller scale producers to enter the export market. Given the economies of scale inherent in large operations linked to multinationals, ACP producers’ best bet for export operations involve niche markets associated with organic, Fairtrade or private-standards.  In Africa there are cross-border exchanges that provide opportunities for land-based supply chains.  The smaller island territories of the Caribbean and the Pacific would be constrained by the size of operations to venture in to the conventional export market. However, the Dominican Republic has demonstrated that well-organized operations can carve out a segment of the global market.

 

References

 

International Labor Rights Forum. (2008). "The Sour Taste of Pineapple: How an Expanding Export Industry Undermines Workers and Their Communities"

Purseglove, J.W. 1972. Tropical crops. Monocotyledons. Longman & John Wiley, Harlow and New York.

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Last updated on 4/26/2012