Business News of 2014-08-20

Pineapple exports on the low

Export of pineapples to the European market has seen a steep decline from 71,000 metric tonnes in 2004 to 40,000 metric tonnes in 2013.

The worrisome trend has reduced Ghana’s 10 percent share of the EU export market to only 3 percent, and also cut earnings from US$24 million to US$19.2 million within the same period, General Manager of the Sea-Freight Pineapple Exporters of Ghana (SPEG), Stephen Mintah, disclosed to the B&FT.

The drop, according to him, is primarily due to the switch in demand from buyers, in 2004, from the smooth cayenne to the MD2 variety – which is costly to produce – and also the non-availability of long-term capital for investments, with local commercial pineapple producing companies operating under very low capacities while some have been forced to shut down.

The current production capacity of surviving companies now hovers around 40-50 percent, a situation that has left local processing companies now sourcing fruits from neighbouring Benin, Côte d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso.

“Policymakers need to understand and appreciate the current situation of the pineapple sector so that they can provide the needed support in the areas of special financial packages to boost production capacity, irrigation and water development and long-term capital for the acquisition of required farm machinery and inputs to sustain the sector and increase productivity,” he said on the sidelines of a BUSAC-funded stakeholders’ forum for actors in the sector.

“There is still a huge potential in the production and export sector, especially at a time when buyers are diversifying supply sources, coupled with the good image Ghana has as a pineapple producing country because of the exploits of the smooth cayenne era.

“We have good and right climatic conditions, reliable ocean vessels and airline services plus a relatively short transit time to foreign markets. The challenge now is in the area of production; there is therefore the need for government and donor agencies to understand these challenges so that they can liaise with operators to come out with realistic financial packages to realise the sector’s potential.”

Indigenous companies began exporting pineapple in commercial quantities -- mainly the smooth cayenne variety -- by air in the mid-80’s with an average figure of 12,000 metric tonnes. The introduction of sea-freight by SPEG in 1994/95 increased export volumes to 71,000 metric tonnes in 2004, an increase of about 373 percent.

Mr. Mintah called for a strong collaboration between sector players and public/donor agencies to restore the sector to its previous production and export capacities, as well as boost the contribution of the pineapple sector to non-traditional exports (NTEs).

Sea-freight Pineapple Exporters of Ghana (SPEG) was formed in 1994 as a spin-off from the Horticultural Association of Ghana, and has 30 active members currently.

It is a professional organised body with specialisation in the export of high-quality pineapples produced under good agricultural practices, stringent standards of hygiene and process control.

Source: B&FT
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