Kenya at a good place to bridge France's dire need of pineapples

Kenyan farmers can fill the international pineapple deficit, which has resulted in a sharp price surge in consumer countries like France.

The shortage has been attributed to a decline in production of the crop in 2015 from source countries such as Kenya, Philippines and Thailand.

Pineapple farming in Thailand, one of the world's leading supplier of the crop, has reportedly been abandoned for rubber and rice, which are more lucrative.

At the same time, Del Monte, which is Kenya's leading exporter of the fruit recorded low harvests last year, a situated linked to land-lease wrangles between the company and the Murang'a and Kiambu County Governments .

Further, the low productivity by Del Monte, and other global pineapple sources, was also linked to harsh weather, resulting from climate change.

Deliveries to major retail outlets in France are running dry, even as concentrate pineapples remained scarce in major supermarkets.

According to International Trade Centre, a publication on global business trends, suppliers in France have put up with high prices to avail the product to their customers.

Concentrate

For instance, Système U and Métro are parting with €0.95 per litre (Sh106/ litre) rather than the usual €0.55 per litre (Sh62/litre).

Pineapple is mainly sold in form of fresh juice or concentrates. Pineapple concentrates have least liquid content for longer shelf life.

The European country's main pineapple distributor, La Laiterie Saint-Denis de l'Hôtel Manadig Director Emmanuel Vasseneixsaid the pineapple juice concentrates shortage may persist until June-July.

Del Monte, Florida Products and Dole have slowed processing the fruit into concentrates and other products to meet the demand for fresh juice, Vasseneix said.

Florida Products processes food ingredients from fruits. Dole is the world's largest producer and marketer of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Both Dole and Florida Products are US companies.

Prices 

Last year concentrate prices doubled from $1,500 per tonne (Sh153, 495 per tonne) to $3,800per tonne (Sh388, 852 per tonne) in the international market.

Pure juice rose from $850 per tonne (KSh86, 980 per tonne) to $1,500 per tonne (Sh153, 494 per tonne).

The Thai Pineapple Industry Association says the country exported about 1.437 million tonnes of pineapples in 2015. The country on average produces around 2 million tonnes of fruit per year.