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Smaller fruit, higher production for Hawaiian pineapples

Fluctuating weather has caused a below average harvest on Hawaii Pineapple Company farms due to smaller fruit sizing but overall pineapple production is up in Hawaii. “It’s been a very hot year,” states Craig Bowden one of the owners of The Hawaii Pineapple Company. While experiencing extreme heat, his farms were lucky enough to miss the recent hurricane. “It’s a lower production than I would’ve liked, but the quality of fruit has been great and the crops to be harvested in 2015 look very good.”

The weather is not the only hurdle Hawaii pineapples faced this year. “The price of the pineapples during the peak season was low and the cost of production in Hawaii is relatively high which makes for a tough market.” Unlike competing corporations like Dole, Hawaii Pineapple Company mainly sells locally due to high demand for its products but low West Coast prices & high shipping costs to the mainland North America also hinder exporting. “The Air Freight & Fed-Ex programs are limited to the USA, and because of high shipping costs plus import requirements we don’t send much to Canada or Japan.”

The majority of the world eats a type of fresh pineapple first planted in Hawaii in the 1970’s. That variety is commonly called MD-2, which is more acidic and has a tart flavour verses the lower-acid Sweet GoldTM hybrid pineapple. Hawaii Pineapple Company is the last family owned and operated commercial-scale pineapple farm in the state, and in order to survive, Bowden uses hands on methods to focus on growing pineapples based on a better flavour profile rather than on size. “Our variety selections, growing conditions, and harvesting methods allow us to offer our “Hawaiian Crown Sweet GoldTM” brand pineapples that are very unique with a real field fresh taste of pineapples that are different than those usually offered.”

While growing pineapples organically in Hawaii has not been economically viable, Bowden mixes both organic and conventional techniques on his plantation. “When you learn about organic techniques, you can implement them into other programs to make the products safer and more flavourful while also being more sustainable and environmentally responsible.”

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