Luzon to export pineapples
HIDDEN AGENDA - Mary Ann LL. Reyes (The Philippine Star) - December 15, 2019 - 12:00am

Mindanao-variety pineapples right here in Luzon?

And yes you’ve read it right. Very soon, Indang in Cavite will be the site of the very first farm outside of Mindanao devoted to MD2 pineapples, the same variety grown by Mindanao commercial pineapple farms for export to the world.

MD2 is a hybrid pineapple variety commonly grown in Mindanao where the elevation ranges from 400 to 800 meters above sea level. According to one study, MD2 which is used by Del Monte is a designer pineapple developed for modern people who like sweet food and crave complex flavors. The variety also has four times more Vitamin C than other varieties like the Hawaiian variety grown in Tagaytay,

A search on the internet also revealed that MD2 pineapples were introduced in 1996 and since then, the interest in this fruit has soared and demand has tripled due to its organoleptic characteristics, its high carbohydrate intake, and because it has an enzyme that aids digestion of protein. And despite its sweetness, its caloric value is moderate.

Just recently, Mensch Fil-Am Corp. signed a memorandum of agreement with Baby Angelo Farms Inc. (BAFI) based in Indang for the development of an initial 10 hectares to a pineapple plantation producing MD2 variety exportable pineapples. The agreement was signed by Mensch president Racquel Simon and BAFI president Caesar Wongchuking.

Mensch is a company that exports MD2 pineapples from Mindanao to countries like Japan, Korea, and the Middle East. It is currently in negotiations with the Israel government to be the exclusive supplier of MD2 pineapples to said country.

According to Mensch, MD2 pineapples are the only exportable variety of pineapples yielding growers substantially more profit than Cayanne pineapples.

Simon and Mensch chairman Carl Hochman, a former New York investment banker with Lehman Brothers, told this writer that they heard about MD2 pineapples being grown in Indang, albeit on a very small scale, by a farmer named Eddie Silang.

Mensch also supplies organic vegetables to supermarket chains like S&R under the brand Whole Green and Landmark (Green Splendour) which it sources from upland Cavite farmers for the last four years.

The company has likewise been training farmers, encouraging them to do program planting weekly due to the huge demand for organic vegetables. S&R alone buys around 1000 kilos a week.

Simon explained that the soil in Indang, which is volcanic, has the same PH level of five as that in Mindanao. Indang’s high altitude of 300 to 700 meters above sea level and its humidity makes it perfect for growing MD2 pineapples.

But what is more interesting is the fact that due to all these factor, the MD2 pineapple from Indang will have a brix (measure of sweetness) of 25 compared to Mindanao’s 13. This means that MD2 pineapples grown in Indang will be a lot sweeter than those from the South.

Initially, Mensch is looking at exporting Indang pineapples to countries like Japan, Dubai, Iran and if the negotiations succeed, Israel. It also exports bananas to China. And according to Simon, Spain and China are also interested and have been inquiring about pineapple concentrates.

Based on the agreement, Mensch and BAFI will have the pineapples available in 18 months’ time.

BAFI, which now has a land area of 30 hectares in Indang, currently grows green ice lettuce which it supplies to Go Salad at a rate of 2,000 kilos a month, dragonfruit, red lady papaya, and bananas.

The Philippines continues to be the world’s third biggest exporter of pineapples. Last year, the country sold $192 million worth of pineapples, next only to Costa Rica’s $1 billion and the Netherlands’ $245.3 million.

From a worldwide perspective the Philippines’ $192 million sales represents 9.2 percent of the global shipments of pineapples from all supplying countries which sold $2.1 billion worth of pineapples in 2018.

Other major exporters of pineapples are Belgium, US, Taiwan, Ecuador, Spain, Mexico and Honduras. Including Costa Rica, Netherlands, and the Philippines, these 10 countries accounted for 89.4 percent of all pineapples shipped last year.

The top 10 countries where the Philippines delivered the highest dollar value worth of pineapples last year are Japan (36.6 percent of Phl pineapple exports valued at $70.3 million), China (24.5 percent, $47.3 million), South Korea (19.2 percent, $36.8 million), United Arab Emirates (6.7 percent, $12.9 million), Hongkong (3.3 percent, $6.3 million), New Zealand (2.3 percent, $4.4 million), Saudi Arabia (1.8 percent, $3.5 million), Iran (1.6 percent, $3 million), Taiwan (1.2 percent, $2.2 million), and Singapore (0.7 percent, $1.4 million).

Distinguished alumni

The search and awards committee of the UP Manila Alumni Association Inc. has chosen Atty. Michael Toledo as one of 2019’s Most Distinguished Alumni for the College of Arts and Sciences.

The UPMAA bestowed recognition on Toledo as a deserving alumnus who has unselfishly served others, the country, his alma mater and their communities.

The award ceremonies was held yesterday Dec. 14, 2019, 6 p.m. at the Museum of History of Ideas, Padre Faura, Manila. Toledo also delivered the response in behalf of all the awardees.

The theme for this year’s 26th General Assembly and Homecoming celebration is “Aruga sa Sambayanan at Organisasyon”. Keynote speaker was Manila Mayor Isko Moreno.

Not so Hidden Agenda

This columnist’s attention was called recently regarding a number of errors in an article regarding UP Virata School of Business’ new dean Joel Tan-Torres, his plans for the school, and the recently conducted homecoming.

It was pointed out that the official degree title in the UP VSB is Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Accountancy (BSBAA) and not Accountancy. The new dean earned his BAA and not accountancy degree from the UP College of Business Administration. Also, during the alumni homecoming held last Dec. 7, the school honored the distinguished alumni awardees for 2019 as well as the accomplishment of the BAA (not accountancy) class of 2019 (and not 1989 as mentioned in the school’s official press release) for garnering the top performing school recognition at the recently concluded CPA examination.

For comments, e-mail at mareyes@philstarmedia.com

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