Import of pineapples from Taiwan was nabbed last month by China over allegations that it presented the risk of “harmful creatures” that could be harmful for its own crops.
However leaders in Taiwan were infuriated by the move as they alleged that it had nothing to do with bugs but was an example of China increasing its political pressure on the island which is considered as its won by China.
Taiwanese leaders found out new customers to replace China and also asked its locals to eat more of the fruit.
“Taiwanese pineapples are stronger than fighter jets. Geopolitical pressures cannot squeeze their deliciousness,” declared Taiwan’s Vice President Lai Ching-te, in a tweet.
Annually 420,000 tonnes of pineapple is produced by the island and a little over 10 per cent of that number was exported by the island in 2020 – most of it to China, according to data from Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture.
With the prospect of stoppage of exports to China, there is likely to be an oversupply of the fruit in Taiwan and the potential of a fall in prices.
A “pineapple challenge”, aimed to prod Taiwanese consumers to purchase more of the fruit, was launched on social media by President Tsai Ing-wen.
The Twitter account of Taiwan’s foreign ministry was used by Foreign Minister Joseph Wu to “urge like-minded friends around the globe to stand with #Taiwan & rally behind the #FreedomPineapple”.
The de facto embassies of the US and Canada in Taiwan were happy to oblige.
A number of pictures to its Facebook page were posted by the American Institute in Taiwan which also included one which featured its director Brent Christensen with three pineapples on his desk. A photo of staff posing around a pineapple pizza was posted by the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei along with a polite reminder that it was the idea of Canada and not of Hawaii.
“We in the Canadian Office like pineapple pizza, especially pineapples from Taiwan!” the post said.
Tsai said that Japan had placed orders for 5,000 tonnes of the fruit from Taiwan which might have made the biggest difference.
Support was also expressed to Taiwanese cause by many Japanese on Twitter.
“I will definitely buy some. I tried it last year and realized that even its core is eatable. Now I love its juicy sweet taste,” one user wrote.
The campaign that was initiated by the Taiwanese government resulted in Taiwanese pineapple producers getting enough orders to make up for the exports that would have otherwise gone to China within just a few days.
Known as the “pineapple prince” ion Taiwan, Yang Yufan is a well-known organic pineapple grower from Southern Taiwan.
Taiwanese pineapple growers has in recent times been encouraged to export their produce to China because of faster and easier inspection and clearance compared to other countries like Japan, Yufan said in an interview to the BBC.
“The pineapples we hope to harvest next year will [have been] sown last year, so the problems we will face next year may be even greater,” he said.
(Adapted from BBC.com)