“I’m very proud that our pineapples can be shipped to China,” Blaise Bobate, a fruit grower from Allada Plateau, a major pineapple-producing area of Benin, was overjoyed to hear the news that his country’s fresh pineapples were allowed to enter China.
In September, the two countries reached an agreement on the export of Benin’s fresh pineapples to China, which was also one of the achievements of the visit by Beninese President Patrice Talon to China this year.
A ton of Benin pineapples shipped by air to China appeared at the sixth China International Import Expo (CIIE), marking the first time that fresh pineapples from Benin entered China through this important expo.
Pineapple is one of Benin’s main export agricultural products, and the locally grown variety, Sugarloaf, is Benin’s first geographical indication product certified by the African Intellectual Property Organization. With white flesh inside and a soft and juicy taste, it is praised as “creamy pineapple” by the local overseas Chinese in Benin.
“Sugarloaf pineapples have little sour taste,” said Alladjodjo Dieu-Donne, president of Benin’s Pineapple Recovery Initiative, adding that the pineapples will not taste puckery even if they are not steeped in salt water, and they can be stored in the refrigerator for a long time.
Benin’s Ambassador to China Simon Pierre Adovelande, who attended the CIIE for the fourth time, said that Benin currently exports about 400,000 tons of pineapples annually.
“We hope to export 300,000 tons to China every year in the future,” he said. “As the Chinese market opens its doors to Benin’s pineapples, we will definitely expand the planting area and increase the output, which will benefit both Beninese farmers and Chinese consumers.”
Beninese fruit companies are also looking forward to the opportunities offered by fresh pineapple exports to China.
“The Chinese people have accepted us, and we really feel that pineapple from Benin is going to become part of their diet,” said Fangnon Firmin Fangninou, Beninese exhibitor at the CIIE, hoping that future cooperation will further open the door to the Chinese market.
“We hope that more processed pineapple products will also be appreciated by the Chinese market. In addition to fresh pineapples, we would like to see collaboration extended to pineapple juice, pineapple concentrate and other products too,” said Alladjodjo Dieu-Donne.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Benin launched a nationwide survey of pineapple producers in July this year, with the aim to improve the planning and management of the pineapple industry and promote the implementation of support measures for the pineapple industry, including training, subsidies and facilitating the export of commodities.
“As the world’s first import-themed national-level expo, the CIIE is undoubtedly an excellent platform for African enterprises to enter the big Chinese market,” Adovelande said.
“We are very confident about the quality of Benin’s pineapples, which will surely become a star product at the expo, thus opening a new chapter in the agricultural cooperation and business exchanges between Benin and China,” he added.