Drought tolerance and the ease of transport of vegetative propagules facilitated the wide diffusion of pineapples around the world. However, the relatively short shelf-life of fresh pineapple fruit limited early commercial trade to relatively short transportation routes or some form of preservation. Jams and sweets made in the West Indies, Brazil and New Spain (Mexico) were the first commercial products of pineapple (Thévet, 1557; Acosta, 1590; Loudon, 1822). In the early 19th century, fresh pineapples were sent from the West Indies to Europe attached to the entire plant, which lowered the price in the European markets and led to a decline in European glasshouse production (Loudon, 1822). Commercialization during the mid-19th century developed based on the shortest trade routes rather than an optimum pineapple production environment. Production in Florida, the Bahamas, Cuba and Puerto Rico supplied the North American market and the Azores the European market. The Azores maintained their monopoly of the European fresh-fruit market until after the Second World War, when production shifted to Africa (Py et al., 1987).
Commercial processing of pineapple started in Hawaii at the end of the 19th century. The invention and refinement of the automatic peeling and coring machine by Henry Ginaca, a Hawaiian Pineapple Company (Dole) employee, between 1911 and 1919 allowed the development of a large-scale economically viable canning industry. This was paralleled by a major expansion of pineapple production. The 1919 ginaca peeled and cored up to 65 pineapples min-1. A 1925 model, also developed by the Hawaiian Pineapple Company, processed 90-100 pineapples min-1. No additional sig
nificant improvements have been made on this machine since 1925 (Anon., 1993). Other important canning operations started around the same period in South-East Asia (Malaysia in 1888, Taiwan in 1902, Philippines in 1920), Australia, South Africa, the Caribbean (Martinique, Cuba and Puerto Rico) and Kenya. The Second World War ruined the South-East Asian industry and destroyed international trade. Hawaii gained a strong leadership position that lasted until the development of new competitors (Côte d'Ivoire and the Philippines, followed by Thailand) between 1950 and the early 1960s. In these same years, refrigerated sea transportation developed and diminished the importance of proximity to the market. Hawaii, West Africa (mainly Côte d'Ivoire) and Taiwan shifted part of their production to the fresh-fruit market, exporting, respectively, to the North American, European and Japanese markets. Philippine production expanded greatly in the 1970s, exporting canned products and significant quantities of fresh fruit to Japan (Py et al, 1987). Today, the canned-product market remains very important but the value of the international fresh-fruit market is rapidly increasing.
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