Pineapple growers never expected to be a big beneficiary of the alcohol ban as South Africans turned to brewing pineapple beer but now it is widely speculated that South Africa's alcohol ban will be coming to an end soon.
Right: R45.99 (2.24 euros) for a single pineapple at a Gauteng retailer yesterday
The ban was instituted to reduce alcohol-related injuries, thus freeing up hospital beds, but the period has been devastating, from an agricultural view, to wine grape, hops and barley growers.
In April and May demand for pineapple was "wild" and "hectic", according to a pineapple trader, exacerbated by a shortage caused by hail and sunburn damage. This time around the price spike has been milder but still greatly higher than prices last year this time.
When the second alcohol ban was announced, pineapple prices were on average R7.46 (0.36 euro) per kilogram on the wholesale market. Within a week it had shot up to R19.20 (0.93 euro) per kilogram, an increase of 157%. It reached a high of R20.61 (just under 1 euro) towards the end of July, since coming down again to R14.45 (0.7 euro).
At some retailers pineapple prices have been sluggish in following the downward trend (see photo above).
"Pineapples have never been as popular and the growers are smiling," says a Bathurst pineapple grower, who tells of a hawker who has started specialising in pineapples for Cape Town. He has been visiting Bathurst two or three times a week for the past few dry months, taking away as much as 28 tonnes of pineapples at a time for the Capetonian informal trade.