Ghana’s fresh fruit company Blue Skies limited says they want a return to indigenous pineapple variety ‘Smooth Cayenne’ and are willing to buy any amount produced by farmers.
Ghana has experienced a sharp fall in pineapple export from the 1990s heyday to present where export revenues have diminished by more than 70%.
The unfortunate developments in the sector got exacerbated when European demand for pineapple shifted from the Smooth Cayenne to MD 2, a variety from Costa Rica made popular around the world by juice maker and fruit exporter Del Monte.
In an attempt to satisfy the European Market, farmers ditched the Ghanaian variety and went after the Costa Rican type. However, climatic conditions and other challenges in the value chain have frustrated farmers and destroyed many farms.
Blue Skies which has now developed several market routes in Europe and a premier brand in many high end supermarkets like Waitrose says demand for the original Ghanaian brand is building up yet again.
The Marketing Manager of Blue Skies, Ruth Adjei says her company is willing to support Ghanaian farmers to reinvest in farming the Smooth Cayenne variety.
“Whatever Ghanaian farmers produce, we will buy. Right now, the Smooth Cayenne is back in demand. It is sweeter and we have seen a steady climb in the figures. But most farmers have become frustrated in the pineapple space. Maybe they need government’s help to be able to restore their farms. We can only say that we need more pineapple hence we are ready to buy everything they produce, said Ruth Adjei.
Meanwhile the lack of pineapple feedstock means that Blue Skies needs to innovate and expand horizontally.
“ Now we are falling on more mangoes and the consumers have taken to it. We are buying more mangoes and creating new recipes with even coconut. We are ready to expand into other areas.” Said Ruth Adjei.
Blue Skies is the biggest fruit exporter in Ghana. The mainstay of their business is slicing up fruit for export. It currently employs 3,500 people directly.