Better varieties and consistent quality of fresh pineapples have caused per capita consumption to climb steadily in recent years. ( File photo )

Buoyed by consistent quality and convenience packs, per capita use of fresh pineapple continues to rise.

On the other hand, per capita use of processed pineapple has dropped significantly over the past 20 years.

Fresh per capita pineapple use was 7.28 pounds in 2016-17, up 4% from 6.98 pounds in 2015-16, 28% higher than the 5.7 pounds in 2010-11 and more than double the 3.22 pounds fresh per capita in 2000-01.

At the same time, per capita use of processed pineapples dropped from 9.34 pounds in 2000-01 to 6.83 pounds, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics.

The rise in per capita consumption has correlated from improvements in pineapple varieties and explosion of value-added sales of cut pineapple, said Craig Carlson, owner of Chicago-based Produce Consulting LLC.

“You have seen the evolution from the old style pineapple varieties to the new golden varieties and now the evolution to pineapple that is cored, diced and cut,” he said.

People want convenience and flavor and they are finding it with fresh-cut pineapple, he said.

“Years ago, you had a good (pineapple) and you had a bad one — now the quality and flavor profile is strong and people have a very good expectation of what they are going to eat,” he said.

Cut and cored pineapple account for the large part of the category’s growth, Carlson said.

Buyers of whole pineapples have more work to do compared with the convenience of cut pineapples.

“If you buy a (whole) pineapple to cut up, you have got to be committed,” Carlson said.

Carlson estimated that perhaps 50% of retailers have in-store staff to cut up pineapples, while the balance may source the value-added pineapple from a supplier.

The additional labor and food safety precautions weigh against in-store cutting, but retailers can deliver a fresher product if they cut the pineapple themselves, he said.

“There is still a big opportunity, whether you do it yourself or you don’t — that’s where the growth is for the category,” he said.



Loss adjusted per capita use

Per capita statistics that account for food loss reveal losses from farm to retail level, and also figure what portion of the fruit is inedible. Based on the most recent statistics, the USDA said losses from farm to retail average 5% for fresh pineapple. Another 15% of pineapple volume was lost from the retail to the consumer level, according to the USDA.

Consumer per capita use of pineapple translated to 5.7 pounds in 2015, up from 4.6 pounds in 2000 and 2.6 pounds per capita in 2000.

The USDA estimates the non-edible portion of the pineapple at 49% and estimates other loss (cooking and uneaten food) at 37%. All together, the total loss for pineapple was a whopping 89% of total weight.

Accounting for loss at all levels, per capita use of fresh pineapples in 2015 was 0.792 pounds, up from 0.647 pounds in 2010 and 0.366 pounds in 2000.