Exquisite taste has made pineapple the third most eaten fruit in the world, right after bananas and citrus fruits. It is also full of nutrients, antioxidants and even enzymes that can reduce soreness and sickness. It is an extremely rich source of vitamin C and manganese, covering most of the daily recommendations, as well as a source of bromelain, an enzyme extract used in cosmetic, topical medication and as meat tenderiser.
Nutrition and bioactive compounds
Pineapple is a good source of carbohydrates, proteins, dietary fibres, vitamins, and minerals. It contains vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, C, K and E, as well as high content of beta carotene, choline, calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus. Dried fruit has especially high content of carbohydrates, mainly sugars (sucrose, glucose and fructose). It contains many amino acids, including all nine essential ones.
Pineapple is associated with numerous health benefits, like helping with digestion and enhancing immunity. Especially important are its anti-inflammation properties, which can help speed up the healing after surgery or recover from the exercise as well as reduce the risk of cancer. Particularly bromelain can minimise the inflammation, swelling and bleeding.
Pineapple is very rich in flavonoids and phenolic acids which act as antioxidants: gallic acid, catechin, coumaric acid, and many more.
Pineapple originates from the tropical countries in South America and was named by the early Western travellers after its resemblance to the pinecone. It grows as a small shrub. Since the 1820s, it has been commercially grown in greenhouses (also in Europe) and many tropical plantations.
Pineapple prefers hot and humid tropical climate but grows also in the temperate regions if the temperature ranges from 20 to 36ºC. It can blossom even at 1800 m altitude, although the fruit is more acidic. Pineapple should be harvested only when it’s ready for the consumption, with minimal total soluble solids’ content of 12% and preferably 1% acidity.
Market and production
Fruit: food (fresh, dried, canned), juice, jams.
Peels: source of phytochemicals.
Leaves of some cultivars: textiles. Bromelain (mostly
from stems): cosmetics, medicine, meat tenderiser.
Worldwide production: almost 28 million tonnes in 2020 (FAO),
more than 5 million tonnes in Africa, EA 1.2 million tonnes.
Main producing countries in the world: Thailand, Brazil, Philippines.
Main producing countries in Africa: Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi.
Main exporting countries: EA 35k tonnes in 2020, 24k tonnes excluding intra-trade, 85k tonnes Africa