MALAYSIA: Pineapple group to quadruple production

On a platform of social integration for indigenous groups, Malaysia’s Rompin Integrated Pineapple Industries (RIPI) is ramping up cultivation at a fast pace as demand grows throughout Asia, the Middle East and in Europe.


Rompin’s general manager Patrick Teoh says the firm currently grows the fruit on 450 hectares of land near the Endau-Rompin National Park, but a second phase of the project will bring a further 1,500 hectares of fruit on-line for production next year.


“At the moment our customers have very high demand for our product, and it’s higher than our productivity at the moment. That gives us confidence to expand even faster,” he says, adding the company is currently producing around 33,000 metric tons (MT) per year.


“Next year we’ll have a value-added component too like pineapple paste and other products to cater for pastry markets and the food industry.”


The executive says a section of the new land will be put aside for organic cultivation, and as Rompin is the anchor company for the country’s East Coast Economic Region Development Council, it will also have a strong social component.


“As it’s next to a natural reserve forest, we will be giving opportunities to the native people living there, helping them incorporate a union so that for part of the land – we’ve gathered about 100 hectares – we’ll give 50% of the net profit back to the union,” he says.


“We are also helping a lot of contract farmers and smallholders to get training to produce quality, and we guarantee to buy back from them. We have a contract with them on a 10-year basis, renewable for another 10 years.


He says having the national park in the surroundings adds to the quality of the product, due to the clean air and a temperature variance of 10°C which leads to higher sugar content.


In terms of costs, Teoh says the group will be focusing on mechanization to make the fruit more price competitive than Thai pineapples.


The company will be promoting the fruit – grown from the MD2 variety and marketed as “Rompine” – at Fruit Logistica in Berlin this week.


“The percentage of exports at the moment is about 70% to Asia, and then 30% is to the Middle East and Europe,” he says.


“The fastest growing markets in the Asian continent are China, Korea and Japan, while in the Middle East it would be the UAE, Iran and Egypt.


“We are looking to expand in Europe as well. The main reason we’re joining Fruit Logistica is that it’s one of the biggest events and buyer from all over the world are in Berlin.”


To keep up with extra planting demands, Rompin fortunately has its roots in a biotechnology lab that was running prior to the establishment of farms five years ago.


“In our group of of companies we also have a tissue culture laboratory which produces quality seedlings, and most of our planting material is from our laboratory.


“We select the best quality material and we multiply and propagate it in a biotechnological way, so that we can confirm the planting material is free from diseases.


“It’s not genetically modified, it’s only doing multiplication.”


He says the lab can produce around five million seedlings annually.


Source: Fresh Fruit Portal

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