JOHOR BARU: Malaysia's more than 2,000 pineapple farmers and plantation owners have been told to step up their game to meet an increased demand for the fruit crop in the Chinese market.
Malaysian Pineapple Industry Board (MPIB) chairman Datuk Samsol Bari Jamali said Malaysian pineapples had become a new source of wealth for the country as its export value was expected to increase from RM155 million a year to RM320 million by 2020.
He said China was among the newest export destinations for Malaysian pineapples, and there was still huge potential for Malaysia to tap into the big Chinese market.
"So far, Malaysia can only meet 10 per cent of the demand for pineapples in China. The consumer demand for Malaysian pineapples is there, and meeting the demand and quality standards of China is something not many countries are able to fulfill.
"Malaysia only began exporting pineapples in a big way to China on Oct 12 this year. Since then, no less than 150 metric tonnes of pineapples are sent to China each week," said Samsol Bari at the MPIB headquarters in Bandar Baru Uda here today.
He said penetrating the Chinese market remained a challenge, but this could be overcome if more industry players stepped forward to collaborate with the MPIB.
Samsol Bari said on the local front, Malaysian consumption of pineapples had seen encouraging growth as the ratio of consumer to pineapple consumption increased from 1:10 five years ago to 1:14 now.
"Local pineapple farmers can earn about RM5,000 a month from every hectare cultivated. Farmers are also able to sell fresh pineapples at high prices as there are more hybrids of the fruit now," said Samsol Bari.
He said Johor remained the highest producer of pineapples as the state accounted for 68 per cent of the farming areas that cultivated the fruit.