Taiwanese Pineapples Gain Higher Market Share in Japan After China Import Ban; Pineapple Import Share Rises from 1% in 2020 to 9% in 2023

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A worker sets a pineapple on the conveyor belt of an automatic huller in Pingtung County in Taiwan on March 14.

TAIPEI — Following China’s import ban on Taiwanese pineapples in 2021, the fruit has gained prominence in the Japanese market thanks to widespread support for its purchase. Taiwanese farmers have invested in equipment for exporting the fruit to Japan, and the percentage of Taiwanese pineapples among Japanese imports of the fruit rose from 1% in 2020 to 9% in 2023.

Pineapples do not last long at room temperature, which led China previously accounting for 90% of the fruit’s exports. When the Chinese government suddenly announced an embargo on the import of Taiwanese pineapples in February 2021, efforts to purchase Taiwanese pineapples spread in Japan and the United States. This led to a rapid increase in Japan’s import volume of Taiwanese pineapples. The volume in 2021 was about eight times that of the previous year, resulting in a higher market share for the fruit.

The increase in imports is backed by Taiwanese farmers’ efforts toward a stable pineapple supply. Kuo Chih Wei, the representative of an agricultural association in southern Taiwan, has invested a total of 100 million Taiwanese dollars (about ¥500 million) since 2022. The money has gone toward introducing cooling facilities and equipment to load the pineapples into containers without exposing them to outside air, establishing a cold chain that prevents the fruit from spoiling.

“Investment in preserving freshness is necessary to ensure [the pineapples] are enjoyed fresh in Japan,” he said.

Pan Chih-min, a fruit producer in Pingtung County, started using an automatic crown removal machine last year to cater to the Japanese market, where cut fruits are preferred.

Supporting these efforts is Tokyo-based fruit and vegetable distributor Farmind Corp., which possesses expertise in pineapple importation. The company signed an agreement with Taiwanese authorities and has sent employees to teach local producers about temperature management, among other things. An executive of the company said, “We want to build trust beyond national borders and deliver crops from all over the world to Japan.”

Taiwan’s Acting Minister of Agriculture Chen Junne-jih expressed his gratitude in early March in Tokyo, stating, “We are thankful that Taiwanese pineapples have been well received by Japanese consumers.”