Introducing Pineapple With A Purpose

By Matt Rogers, March 30, 2010  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Matt Rogers
Pineapple Tags Our produce team has been learning a lot about pineapple lately. We had heard from various sources about environmental problems associated with pineapple production in Costa Rica and we wanted to know more. Over the past six months, we’ve toured farms, tasted lots of pineapple and met with a diverse group of knowledgeable people, including growers (large and small), farm workers, importers, certifiers, academics and others – a peace corps volunteer even took a long bus ride to tell us about her life and work in a community on the edge of a big pineapple farm. As a result of what we’ve learned, this April (Earth Month) we’re introducing Whole Trade Pineapple. As always, the Whole Trade Guarantee™ is our commitment to ethical trade, the environment and the highest quality. In this case, the quality speaks for itself. This fruit is excellent – fresh, ripe and sweet. I’ll explain in the rest of this post why it’s also important that it meet the other requirements of the Whole Trade Guarantee. Most of the fresh pineapple in the U.S. now comes from Costa Rica, a recent shift from Hawaiian production driven by many factors including better growing conditions in the tropics and the cost of land and labor. Since 2000, pineapple production area in Costa Rica has increased by more than 300% from 27,000 acres to more than 110,000. Pineapple has overtaken coffee to become Costa Rica’s #2 export crop in dollars (bananas are #1). Pineapple is a land and labor-intensive crop and, like many commercial crops, it is farmed intensively. As planted area has increased rapidly, so has concern over the environmental and social impact of this relatively new industry. A few principal complaints have emerged, including: heavy erosion and loss of top soil; contamination of water supplies from runoff of agrochemicals; infestations of insects that are attracted to improperly disposed plant matter; and deforestation in the search for new area to plant. Despite reassurances from the broader industry that production is compliant with local laws and similar in environmental impact to other intensive crops, we see an opportunity to use our purchasing power to support growers who are raising the bar. A healthy buffer zone between plantings at a conventional farm certified by Rainforest Alliance. Here’s how our Whole Trade™ Pineapple will make a difference:
  • Supporting Organic – We’ve converted a significant portion of our pineapple supply to organic. Organic production prohibits use of the agrochemicals that have become so controversial in Costa Rica. To control weeds, organic growers use a thin plastic covering over their beds that drastically reduces erosion. Organic production also prohibits the use of ripening agents, which give most pineapple its bright gold shell color. This organic fruit is ripe and ready to eat when green on the outside — if you don’t believe us, ask for a taste!
  • 3rd Party Social / Environmental Certification – All of our Whole Trade pineapple (including organic) is either Rainforest Alliance or Fair Trade certified.  Both of these independent certifiers ensure that very specific environmental and social standards are met. Please follow the links to learn more about the specific standards. Enjoy this fruit knowing it was grown on one of the few pineapple farms in the world that meet the high social and environmental standards set by our Whole Trade certifier partners.
  • Investing in Communities, Research and Education – We make an additional contribution on each box of Whole Trade Pineapple we purchase.  On Fair Trade Certified product, the contribution flows directly to the workers at the farm, who will use the money to fund community projects such as education and day care centers.  On Rainforest Alliance Certified product, we make the contribution to our friends at EARTH University to support their scholarship fund and sustainable pineapple research.
WFM WFM's Karen Christensen on one of our Whole Trade Organic farms. Supply of this highly certified pineapple is still limited, so we can’t guarantee it will be the only pineapple you find in our stores. We’re buying as much as we can get and we’re working to bring additional supply online. If you have any questions about what you’re buying, just ask a produce team member in one of our stores.  Enjoy!

 

16 Comments

Comments

Catherine Ewan says ...
Matt. Your work with Whole Foods seems so very interesting. I learned so much about the growing of pineapples from this sight. I buy pineapples when they are on sale. I know the best way to cut them. You need a curved grapefruit knife. We still need a Whole Foods in New Bern NC. Keep up the good work. Catherine Ewan
03/30/2010 5:11:14 PM CDT
Dan Paulus says ...
This is a good example of Whole Food not doing the right thing and spinning the facts to make them look good. The bottom line is that Whole Food should not be selling pineapples unless the store is in Hawaii or Costa Rica. There is a thing called a "carbon footprint." The amount of fossil fuels used to transport pineapples is obscene. Whole foods is doing nothing to educate the public about eating locally grown and seasonal foods. I guess it's a good thing I'm a stock holder. It really is about making a buck while seemingly doing all the right things. WF is hardly the only ones guilty of this, but I am disappointed. I do have to bite my lip every time a see someone buying a pineapple in Chicago at WF.
04/07/2010 11:41:06 AM CDT
jock mitchell says ...
Thank you for your efforts with EARTH and with the local workers. Please help us here in Costa Rica with forest degradation in the planting of these types of crops for mass use and sales. Why does not Whole Foods help with reforestation? You could help Rainsong Wildlife Sanctuary at Cabuya on the Nicoya Peninsula in their distribution of hardwood seedlings. Thank you for your push for organic pineapples with Earth University. Please do this worldwide and not just in Costa Rica.
04/10/2010 2:54:56 PM CDT
Shirley Abreu says ...
There is pineapple and there is pineapple. IMO, there is a big difference in flavor and sweetness btw pines fr HI and Costa Rica, especially the "gold" tagged pines from Dole HI indicates a sweeter fruit with less acidity. Why is Whole Foods supporting commerce outside the US when the product is available in the US.
04/13/2010 11:18:44 AM CDT
Marcos says ...
Please inform us in what regions of Costa Rica are these "Organic" Pineapples that you are selling in your stores coming from. What are some of the actual names of these farms that are producing the fruit. Thanks...from an Inquiring consumer wanting to be educated
07/08/2010 3:13:40 PM CDT
paig292 says ...
@Marcos The organic pineapple is produced in the Heredia province of Costa Rica near a town called Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui. The primary farm supplying Whole Trade Organic pineapple is Finca Corsicana. Thanks for your interest.
07/12/2010 12:04:46 PM CDT
miriam says ...
Hi, I'm glad to see taken time to learn from WFM whole organic farm trade in the case of organic pineapple and if there is no doubt the taste is excellent and always good and the best is expensive. on the other hand is not how large the salary of those who grow we can not expect these farmers have a salary equivalent to the wages in the U.S. for the system in Costa Rica is very different from using and we must also take into that WFM has to assume other expenses such as transportation of these products to each WFM stores plus other expenses that really do not all know. Mmmm this is only my opinion I hope not to disturb anyone. I am glad to know that many people are employed by WFM extensive land and enlarge the business of this small business
02/25/2011 4:15:05 PM CST
Lucy says ...
I can't tell you how grateful I am for this effort you are making! I just returned from volunteering at the Sloth Sanctuary in Limon, Costa Rica, where they grow both bananas and pineapples, and Dole's crop dusters have polluted the entire area. Both sloth and human infants are being born with horrible birth defects. Please don't ever sell anything produced by Dole, Del Monte or Chiquita- they are raping this land and poisoning it's people.
04/03/2013 5:47:51 PM CDT
Rico Torres says ...
I went to the web and googled "Organic Pineapple", glad to see this page showed up in my search results. I buy all my food from Whole Foods in Asheville, NC. Thanks for searching the world and bringing quality food to us all.
04/15/2013 6:44:37 AM CDT
Candace says ...
I enjoy going on a pineapple fast every year. The commercial pineapples are declining in quality and now they are probably unsafe to eat. They are certainly not suitable for fasting. Someone brought me DelMonte pineapples this year and I ended up throwing them away. The were apparently cut too green like most of their produce and were inedible.
05/13/2013 3:58:35 PM CDT
Jill says ...
I believe you should only carry fresh pineapples from Dole of Hawaii. They ship faster (2-3 days) and are therefore fresher when they arrive. Other countries can take up to 2 weeks to ship. Why buy from other countries when we have the best product available in our own country? What about supporting the people and agriculture of Hawaii?
06/19/2013 7:08:26 PM CDT
Michael LaBelle says ...
I am looking to sell organic fertilizer into Costa Rica for organic pineapple production. Who would I contact at WF to discuss this topic?
02/26/2014 1:59:21 PM CST
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@MICHAEL - Are you wanting to buy fertilizer from us to ship to Costa Rica? At this time we do not whole sale fertilizer, mainly just small bags of compost for gardens.
02/26/2014 4:27:17 PM CST
Candace says ...
There has been a steep decline in the quality of conventionally grown and available pineapple in recent years and I have been trying without success to find organic fresh pineapple - including at Whole Foods Austin. Is there any way I could be notified when a shipment arrives in one of the Austin stores? I usually buy 6 at a time.
02/27/2014 12:27:02 PM CST
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@CANDACE - Since produce deliveries vary between locations, I would check directly with the produce team you shop with in Austin. They can possibly send you an email when a delivery is expected.
03/03/2014 4:54:40 PM CST
Erin says ...
While I think it's great that Whole Foods is taking such strides to get fair trade pineapple into its stores, I was saddened to see my local store selling pineapples by Del Monte who are a huge part of the problem you're trying to avoid. I would think with Whole Foods mission, this wouldn't be allowed but I guess you need to give the people what they demand.
03/18/2014 6:20:35 PM CDT