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Pineapple prices in South Africa flex amid pandemic

Four weeks into lockdown, South Africans are reconnecting with their kitchens. But it’s not demand for humble ingredients such as potatoes, garlic or onions that is rising exponentially, but rather pineapples.

This is probably not because homebound South Africans have a hankering for Southeast Asian cuisine, but has more to do with the fact that the right combination of pineapple, sugar and yeast can result in an alcoholic brew with a kick; something consumers are craving amid prohibition.

The numbers speak for themselves. On March 27, the first day of the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown, the Johannesburg fresh produce market sold 10,000 pineapples or so. On April 6 and 7 — a few days ahead of the Easter weekend — 60,000 pineapples were sold.

Then this past Monday, volumes skyrocketed to 90,000 pineapples on the day. Prices have responded — while pineapples sold for about R12.50 a kilo on March 27, they have shot up 80% to R22.50 last weekend.

Jaco Oosthuizen, CEO of RSA Group, a fresh produce sales organisation, says the Covid-19 pandemic and the nationwide lockdown has had some effects on the fresh produce markets — as observed in the pineapple price — but this is simply the free market at work.


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