Globally, pineapple is the second most traded product across the globe after bananas. There exist several hundred varieties, but the most widely grown are smooth cayenne, Queen and the recently introduced variety called MD2 which commands 80 percent of the global trade in pineapples.
Pineapple production is concentrated in the tropical regions of the world. It is grown in over 82 countries with over 2.1 million acres under the crop. The main producers are Thailand, Philippines, Brazil, China, India, Costa Rica, Nigeria, Kenya, Mexico, and Indonesia.
In Kenya pineapple is predominantly grown by large-scale producers and small-scale farmers. Large scale production is concentrated in Central Kenya where intensive inputs are used, while the small scale production is concentrated at the Coast, Central and Western Regions of the country; characterized by small farms with low input use.
Pineapples are either sold as fresh fruit or are processed into a number of products with pineapple concentrate/juice accounting for 80 percent of the trade. The most common varieties produced by Kenyan Pineapple farmers are smooth cayenne, MD2 and Sweet 16. The most planted variety is smooth cayenne accounting for 80 percent of the total pineapple produced, though currently there are efforts to move to MD2 variety due to its superior nutrition qualities.
In 20015, there was a decline in pineapple production in Kenya driven by low productivity and harsh climatic conditions that have resulted from climate change. Even with such challenges at hand, there is still great opportunity as far as investing in this sector is concerned. Pineapple is mainly sold in form of fresh juice or concentrates. Pineapple concentrates have least liquid content for longer shelf life.
Investors should put in more resources in this sectors which have promising returns. The good thing with investing here is that the harvesting process is easy. Once they are ripe after a period of like nine months, they are plucked. The small ones may go for 50 shillings and the big fruits as high as 100 shillings per piece. In an acre, there may be up to 30,000 fruits leading to a return of up to 1.5 to 2 million shillings in a good season for every acre.