Local orders flood in amid pineapple purchase drive
Taipei, Feb. 28 (CNA) Orders have poured in from local businesses to purchase pineapples after China's announcement on Thursday that it will suspend imports of the fruit from Taiwan from March 1.
During a campaign to encourage pineapple purchases by Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) in the southernmost county of Pingtung on Sunday, PX Mart, one of Taiwan's largest retailers, pledged to buy more.
Company chairman Lin Min-hsiung （林敏雄）said he will initiate a purchase drive to buy at least 10,000 metric tons.
Su also assured farmers that the government will ensure pineapple prices in these deals that at a minimum maintain the average price level of NT$21.3 (US$0.77) per kilogram seen from 2019-2020.
Earlier, I-MEI Foods Co. and Largan Precision Co., a supplier of smartphone camera lenses to Apple Inc., placed orders to buy 1,600 metric tons of pineapples, said Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲), head of the Cabinet-level Council of Agriculture (COA).
Pastry operators also pledged to buy 5,000 metric tons, Chen said, explaining that these orders accounted for about 33 percent of the government's sales target of 20,000 metric tons of pineapples.
The ban on pineapple exports to China was announced by China's General Administration of Customs in response to what it said were various types of mealy bugs found in several batches of fresh pineapples shipped from Taiwan in 2020.
The move has been interpreted by some in Taiwan as directed at the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which is frequently critical of China, and whose traditional base of support is in the south of the country where pineapples are grown.
Visiting Kaohsiung on Sunday to show the government's support for local farmers, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) pledged to develop more channels for pineapple exports.
There will be business campaigns so that the world knows Taiwanese not only make good chips, but also grow delicious pineapples, she said.
Pineapple prices were holding steady at NT$24.4 per kilogram on Saturday, well above the support price of NT$11, at which the government would begin to purchase pineapples directly from farmers, according to the COA.
From 2018-2020, exports accounted for only 10 percent of total pineapples produced in Taiwan, of which 95.2 percent went to China and had a value of NT$155.23 million, COA statistics show.
(By Kuo Chih-hsuan, Yang Shu-min and Lee Hsin-Yin)
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