Kingsley Ansong grew up in Canada, but his family roots are in Ghana. He is the founder and president of Elefante Farms. Elefante Farms is growing Ghana’s specialty Sugar Loaf pineapple variety, now available for export.
The company is young but has grand ambitions; its name, Elefante Farms, is based on a few unique elements. To start with, Ghana possesses a unique breed of elephants who are known as the friendliest in the continent. Second, the farm resides in the Fante region, where the Fante tribe originates – a tribe that Kingsley’s family descends from. Elephant + Fante = Elefante Farms.
To the left a Elefante Farms Sugar Loaf pineapple and to the right Elefante Farms luxury Single Box packaging
Aerial shot of the Elefante Farm, November 2022
Kingsley is very enthusiastic about Ghana’s potential as a tremendous agricultural and fresh produce, export country: “Ghana is seen as an up-and-coming country for fresh produce production and export. Ghana’s natural resources are so great and plentiful, it is a shame this is not being used extensively. In Ghana, there are many micro farms and only a few bigger farms. These small-scale farms have little purchasing power or negotiating powers.”
He continues to introduce the rationale and passion behind founding his business: “I believe that there is a way fruit cultivation can be done - a way in which all parties of the value chain are respected and empowered. We have an industry-leading compensation system where our workers are paid almost double the minimum wage to start. Workers are paid every two weeks without question and delay. Ghana’s currency took a hit last fall and there was significant inflation, we promptly raised the wages accordingly.”
Although the company only started planting last year, it is currently one of the fastest developing farms in Ghana. Kingsley says: “We have incredibly talented practitioners across the business who are all motivated”.
A Sugar Loaf pineapple in the wild
Sugar Loaf Pineapple
The Sugar Loaf pineapple is a very exotic variety and native to Ghana. To people in Ghana, all they know is this pineapple but most of the world has never seen this variety as its only grown in large quantities in about four countries in the world. With its eye catching emerald green exterior and white flesh, visitors at Fruit Logistic were inquisitive about this unfamiliar pineapple.
Kingsley and his team enthusiastically provided samples of Sugar Loaf to visitors at pineapple stand in the Ghana stand at the Berlin Fruit Logistica and the reception was universally positive. “The extraordinarily sweet and soft texture of the pineapple made it memorable.”
To the right, the Sugar Loaf pineapple is characterized by its cylindrical shape and white inner flesh
Made from recyclable carton, Elefante Farms is trying to create a unique blend of luxury and sustainability
“The traditional MD2 pineapple cultivation has been in Ghana for decades, but production is capital intensive and comes with additional risks. The Sugar Loaf variety often requires less fertilizer and water – which makes it a more environmentally friendly and sustainable option.”
“For the consumer, the Sugar Loaf pineapple variety tastes less acidic than the MD2 pineapple variety. It also does not have the hard core the traditional MD2 pineapple possesses. Some people experience what is known as “post-pineapple mouth irritation” when consuming the traditional pineapple variety and have reported little to no irritation when eating the Sugar Loaf variety.
“Our main challenge in marketing the Sugar Loaf pineapple is its outer shell appearance. People think the pineapple is not ripe, as the shell is a beautiful emerald green. However, the fruit is perfectly ripe, sweet and ready to eat even with its green skin. We want to sell the fruit in this state, so we have work to do engaging with the buyer and the consumer to communicate how the fruit looks like and that its perfectly ripe and sweet with an astounding 15% brix level even when its green,” says Kingsley: “The fruit is sweet, soft, and when people try it, they always love it. We also sell Sugar Loaf in the more traditional yellow color for clients where it is desired.
To the right, the inner white ripe flesh of the Sugar Loaf
Sea Boxes are more suitable for the Sugar Loaf variety due to its longer shape
The Sugar Loaf pineapple is available year-round in Ghana. Elefante Farms ships directly from Accra – the capital of Ghana. A very special variety now suitable for global markets. "We are exporting to Europe and hoping to expand to more markets soon,” concludes Kingsley.
At Fruit Logistica, “We showcased our luxury segment product – a single pineapple box. These products are meant for clients who would like a special alternative, some have said it looks like an expensive wine bottle and we like that comparison! The vast majority of our pineapples will be shipped in the traditional sea and air boxes. In addition, we also produce the Smooth Cayenne and MD2 varieties," according to Kingsley.
The company, Elefante Farms, is backed by an investment fund, Quantum Ventures International -Inc - based in Toronto, Canada. The fund helps strengthen Elefante Farms position in international negotiations; buyers and supplier’s co-ordinate directly and submit payment to the parent company in Toronto.
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Kingsley Ansong, President