Pineapple sales soar to 90,000 in a day from 10,000 amid booze ban

Potatoes and avocados are cheaper

Demand rises for the spiky fruit as people brew pineapple beer at home during the Covid-lockdown ban on alcohol sales.
Image: maglara/123RF

Home brewing during the Covid-19 ban on alcohol sales pushes up the price of pineapple, while potatoes and avocados are cheaper.

Four weeks into lockdown and without a rotisserie chicken in sight, South Africans are reconnecting with their kitchens. But it’s not demand for humble ingredients such as potatoes, garlic or onions that is rising exponentially, but rather pineapples.

This is probably not because homebound South Africans have a hankering for a Southeast Asian-inspired stir-fry or even a (deeply underrated) Hawaiian pizza. Rather, the right combination of pineapple, sugar and yeast can result in an alcoholic brew with a kick — something consumers are craving amid prohibition.

The numbers speak for themselves.

, On the the first day of the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown in March, the Johannesburg fresh produce market sold 10,000 pineapples or so. On April 6 and 7 — a few days ahead of the Easter weekend — 60,000 pineapples were sold, reports BusinessLIVE.

Then this past Monday, volumes skyrocketed to 90,000 pineapples on the day.

Prices have responded — while pineapples sold for about R12.50 a kilo in March , they have shot up 80% to R22.50 last weekend.

Jaco Oosthuizen, CEO of RSA Group, a fresh produce sales organisation, says the Covid-19 pandemic and the nationwide lockdown has had some effects on the fresh produce markets — as observed in the pineapple price — but this is simply the free market at work.

For example, the price of large potatoes that would have normally gone into the restaurant and takeaway industry to make slap chips dropped off with lower demand.

Avocados, too, are looking cheaper now that the local production season has begun and big buyers such as sushi restaurants remain shut.

The effect of events on fresh produce markets is immediate, Oosthuizen said.

“You find, immediately when you see a lack of demand, prices will adjust accordingly. Industry response can be just as swift and farmers may decide to delay harvesting where practical, or buyers will stock up and offer specials to consumers,” he says.

Now that the government has reopened informal trade, with the required permits, it is hoped sales and prices on many of these products will recover.

The prices of fresh produce are dynamic for an obvious reason: what you don’t sell, you throw away.

In SA, wastage of fresh produce on markets is less than 1% and consists of product that is unfit for human consumption.

“There is always a market or a buyer for product at the right price,” Oosthuizen added.

This scenario is very different to those in other parts of the world, such as the US, where the Covid-19 measures have forced farmers to plough tonnes of perfectly good vegetables back into their fields. In their dairy industry too, producers are smashing eggs and dumping thousands of litres of milk into manure pits.

Read more of the story on TimesLIVE




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