Oppenheimer eyes Hawaii as pineapple source

06/23/2008 12:00:00 AM
Don Schrack

(June 23, 3:47 p.m.) The sale of Costa Rican pineapple supplier, Fruitas de Exportacion, will have little effect on The Oppenheimer Group, Vancouver, British Columbia. The company is continuing its pineapple program and is actively pursuing other suppliers, said David Nelley, pineapple category director.

Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc., Coral Gables, Fla., announced June 9 it had acquired Fruitas de Exportacion and a Costa Rican banana grower-shipper.

“Fruitas de Exportacion will continue to supply pineapples to Oppenheimer through the end of the year,” Nelley said.

The sale may turn out to be beneficial for Oppenheimer and its customers. The company has been working with another Central American grower who, Nelley said, is planning to ramp up production. In addition, he said a number of independent growers in Costa Rica also have approached Oppenheimer. The growers prefer not being tied to a multinational corporation, he said.

“It’s exciting, because they are independent farmers with a likeminded view toward quality, food safety and traceability,” Nelley said.

The sale of Fruitas de Exportacion could be a shot in the arm to Hawaii’s pineapple industry. Del Monte abandoned its pineapple acreage in the island state in January 2007, ending the company’s 90 years of pineapple growing in Hawaii. The departure was nearly two years earlier than previously announced.

Oppenheimer may well take up the slack.

“Although we built our pineapple program on the quality of fruit grown in Costa Rica, the quality of the Maui-grown pineapple speaks for itself, so we are very interested,” Nelley said.



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