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«NICARAGUA ARAP Agriculture Reconstruction Assistance Program The US Market for Organic Pineapple Prepared by: Marsha Krigsvold Submitted by: ...»

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Agriculture Reconstruction Assistance


The US Market for Organic Pineapple

Prepared by:

Marsha Krigsvold

Submitted by:

Chemonics International Inc.


United States Agency for International Development

Managua, Nicaragua

Under RAISE IQC Contract No. PCE-I-00-99-00003-00

Task Order No. 802

November 2000


Table of Contents Executive Summary 4 Introduction 7 Section 1. The Pineapple 7 Cultivars 7 Conventional Pineapple Cultivation 9 The Use of Growth Regulators to Stimulate Flower Induction 10 Internal Brown Spot 10 Section 2. US Market for Conventional Pineapple Products 11 Fresh Fruit 12 Preserved Pineapple Fruit 14 Canned Pineapple 14 Juice 15 Dehydrated and Dried Pineapple 15 Section 3. The US Market for Organic Foods 16 The Organic Market 16 An Overview of the Food Chain 17 Marketing Imported Fresh Fruit 17 Marketing Processed or Intermediate Products 17 Distribution Channels for Fresh Organic Products 18 Distributors 18 Large National Distributors 19 Small Brokers/Receivers/Distributors 20 East Coast 20 West Coast 21 Distribution Channels for Processed Organic Products 21 Organic ingredient Distributors/Retailers 22 Non-Specialized Manufacturer/Distributors of Processed Organic Foods/Food Ingredients 22 Dehydrated/Dried Pineapple 23 Organic Baby Foods 24 Organic Food Retailers 24



Section 4. Results of Market Surveys 26 The US Market for Fresh Organic Pineapples 26 Retailers of Organic Pineapple

–  –  –

Annex 5. Contact Information for Organic Industry Businesses Annex 6.

Cost-Benefit Worksheets A goal of the Chemonics – USAID ARAP Project in Nicaragua is the improvement of income of some 900 growers cultivating approximately 1,400 ha of pineapple in Ticuantepe, Nicaragua. The edaphological, hydrological and climatic conditions of the zone are such that pineapple production is one of the few options for agriculture in Ticuantepe. However, competition of these small landholders with transnational pineapple producers for market share in supplying fresh conventionally produced pineapple to the US is not a viable option because of production, financial and infrastructure restraints.

In the past, adopting a niche strategy has proven a successful option for smaller competitors in a highly competitive market. One such niche for small landholders of pineapple might be targeting the US market for organic pineapple products.

This paper examines the size and growth trends for pineapple products in the US market, the current status and trends in the organic market in the US and, specifically, the status of the US market for organic pineapple products. The products studied include: fresh and IQF frozen fruit, pineapple crush, juice, concentrates and canned, dehydrated and dried pineapple.

The US is the largest single consumer nation of pineapple, importing over 29% of the world’s production. Sales for fresh conventional pineapple have been given a boost since the introduction of the new Gold cultivars by Dole and Del Monte. Consumption of pineapple has increased from

2.0 to 3.0 lb per capital since 1998. Retail sales have increased by 9% and sales by volume by 3%.

Most of the fresh fruit consumed in the US is imported from Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, the Dominican Republic and Honduras, with Costa Rica being the largest exporter to the US. There is some domestic production of pineapple in Hawaii.

Canned pineapple consumption has also increased dramatically since 1985, although growth in the sales of this product slowed in 1995 and has been volatile since. Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia are the most important suppliers of canned pineapple both worldwide and to the US.

Imports of juice and concentrates have fluctuated since 1993. However, between 1998 and 1999, the value of imported pineapple juice rose by 20%.

Like the rest of the food industry in the US, the market for organic foods has shown dramatic, sustained growth over the last ten years. That growth has resulted in the development of the different links in the distribution channel, particularly for the retailers, through expansion, mergers and acquisitions. This growth has also attracted the interest of mass market food industry businesses, retailers, distributors and manufacturers who are acquiring organic businesses to gain entrance into the organic food market. Transnational grower/shippers are also exploring organic production of their conventionally cultivated crop. Among those is Dole, a global pineapple grower/shipper.

Trends in the supply and demand of organic pineapple are difficult to assess due to the lack of official statistics and the resulting reliance on anecdotal information. However, it appears that consumer demand for fresh organic pineapple is low due to the interest in the Gold pineapples, which are better quality, more gold in colour and sweeter than the Monte Lirio and available all year around. Monte Lirio, while a hardy cultivar that is tolerant of poor growing conditions and



diseases, has a white flesh and is not sweet enough for the palate of most American consumers and will not compete well against the more yellow, sweeter Gold and Cayenne cultivars.

Therefore, Nicaraguan growers will have to switch cultivars to a Cayenne, shipped as a “Golden Ripe” or to Gold cultivars. Use of a Gold cultivar would require consent of the company to which it belongs as the Golds are registered cultivars.

Development of value-added products has been slow due to the scarcity of reliable supplies of good quality raw material. However, there is a general consensus among all of the individuals in the market who are working with organic pineapple that it has great unrealized potential.

Venturing into value-added products for the Nicaraguan pineapple growers would only be profitable if the appropriate processing facilities were available within close proximity. At the present time, there are no organically certified processing facilities close to the Ticuantepe pineapple production area. Therefore, in the short term, production of organic pineapple for processing or manufacturing value-added products is not an option.

The acceptance of the National Organics Standard Board of ethylene and prohibition of calcium carbide for use for flower induction in the organic production of pineapples has great implications to small growers of pineapple. On the one hand, ethylene use will allow year around production of organic pineapples, which should result in increased demand and allow the development of more value-added products. However, large growers with the capital to acquire ethylene application equipment and for the certification fees will have a competitive advantage over the small grower. Growers trying to work small plots of pineapple will be increasingly marginalized as the larger competitors, with their greater resources, are better able to meet market demands at lower prices.

Strategies for small landholders to compete in the market for organic pineapple will involve a combination of tactics such as increasing effective production area (cooperative production), switching pineapple cultivars from the Monte Lirio to a Cayenne or Gold and seeking out a sponsor to assist small growers in learning efficient organic production practices and financing certification fees and production costs and providing a captured market for their product. Were the Ticuantepe growers, organized through UPROTIC, to secure the sponsorship of one of the large distributors of fresh organic fruits and processed products or an independent grower relationship similar to the one that independent banana growers enjoy with the large transnationals, they would be able to acquire technical and financial assistance as well as marketing and distribution of their products.

There are several opportunities for such relationships. Dole, for example, already has several years of experience in organic pineapple production in Honduras and could provide guidance in production activities, as well as equipment sharing and a ready market for Ticuantepe organic pineapple. Dole has the transportation, distribution and marketing infrastructure to move larger volumes of product to and through the market than the Ticuantepe producers would be able to move on their own. Also, Dole has experience with IQF fruit and juicing through its operations in La Ceiba, Honduras. Dole, although the legality of ownership and exploitation is in dispute, has a Gold cultivar and organically certified propagative material in Honduras that might be available for establishing plantations in Nicaragua.

Alternatively, sponsorship by or joint ventures with companies such as Jacob’s Farm or CF Fresh would bring pr oduction, distribution, marketing and processing experience and knowledge to Ticuantepe organic pineapple growers, as well as assistance with certification and in depth knowledge of the organic market in the US.


Introduction Understanding the prospects of the organic pineapple in the US market requires a broad base of knowledge. First, it is important to understand that in the larger fruit and vegetables market, the conventional pineapple is the closest competitor to the organic pineapple. Organic pineapple represents little more than yet another version of pineapple products to most consumers.

Currently, the price and quality differentials between products of the conventional pineapples and those of the organic pineapple force most consumers to decide between the purchase of one over the other, with consumers and, therefore, retailers often choosing the conventional pineapple over the organic at the current time.

Second, organic pineapple is just one commodity of many within the US market for organic fruits and vegetables. In order to understand the market for organic pineapple, one must have a general understanding of how the organic market functions, its players and its current behavior and trends.

Therefore, basic knowledge of the production of pineapples, the US market for organic products and, within that market, the market for organic pineapples, is necessary to assess the prospects for organic pineapple producers. This information is organized in four sections. The first section focuses on the US market for conventional pineapple products, both fresh and processed. The second section describes the organic market and the distribution channels for fresh and processed organic products. The third section focuses on the current situation in the US market with respect to organic pineapple products and the fourth analyzes the cost-benefits of the various organic pineapple products.

Section 1. The Pineapple Pineapple, Ananas comosus (L.

) Merr, is a member of the bromeliad family. It is a xerophytic plant and uses water very efficiently. Therefore, it is the crop of choice in tropical climates where annual rainfall is low (50-200 cm) and irrigation is expensive or unavailable. Drip irrigation is generally used during dry periods in commercial operations but irrigation can be detrimental if over-applied because wet soil conditions favor the growth of root rot pathogens (http://agrss.sherman.hawaii.edu/pineapple/pinehaw.htm).

Pineapple is grown in all of the tropical zones throughout the world.

Cultivars The cultivars being planted in commercial operations in Central America include Smooth Cayenne, Champaka and the new “Gold” cultivars of Del Monte and Dole. Local cultivars that are widely grown in Central America include the Sugarloaf, Azucarón, Montufar and Monte Lirio.

There are basically five groups of pineapple, depending on morphological characteristics and plant habits. These are the Cayenne, Spanish, Queen, Pernambuco and Perolera (Py, Lacoeuilhe and Teisson, 1987, The Pineapple, Cultivation and Uses. Techniques Agricoles et Productions Tropicales. Editions G.-P. Maisonneuve & Larose, 15, Rue Victor-Cousin, Paris, pp.568).

Within these five morphological types fall the various cultivars of pineapple (See Annex 1).


The Smooth Cayenne, a cultivar of the Cayenne Group, probably originated from botanical samples taken from French Guiana during a French botanical expedition in 1819. The material was first sent to a botanical greenhouse in Versailles from which it was then shipped to a botanical greenhouse in Great Britain where it was propagated and sent out to Australia, Jamaica and Hawaii in the late 1880s. It has since become the most commercially successful pineapple cultivar in the US market.

Smooth Cayenne is typical of the Cayennes. It has leaves that are mostly smooth except for the spiny tips. The fruit is both sweet and acid, non-fibrous, and has pale yellow flesh (Py et al, 1987). The Smooth Cayenne, until recently, was considered to be the best type available for commercial purposes as it has fruit characteristics that allow it to be sold fresh or sliced and processed as canned fruit.

The Smooth Cayenne is a “modern” cultivar. Although it is very productive, it is also very susceptible to pests and diseases and is very sensitive to stressful growing conditions. It requires efficient cultural practices. Another drawback of Smooth Cayenne is its low rates of sucker and slip production without the use of plant regulators. Under natural conditions, it may produce as few as two slips and no suckers (Py et al, 1987). Therefore, a limiting factor in replanting or expansion of production area in Smooth Cayenne is the paucity of propagative material from existing plantations.

Champaka is another cultivar of the Cayenne group and is thought to be a selection from the Smooth Cayenne. It was first collected in India by the Philippine Packing Corporation (PPC).

Slips were sent by the PPC to the Pineapple Research Center in Hawaii in 1934 from whence it was disseminated. It is a commercially acceptable cultivar in Central America, although not to the extent of the Smooth Cayenne.

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