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From smallholders to transnationals: the impact of changing consumer preferences in the EU on Ghanas pineapple sector

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This paper explores the impact that a new type of pineapple, and subsequent changing consumer preferences in the Global North, has had on the livelihoods of pineapple growers in Ghana. The paper starts by tracing how research and development in Costa Rica by the world’s largest producers of pineapple, Del Monte and Dole, have resulted in a new variety MD2. This new pineapple type has been marketed in the EU through campaigns carried out by plantation companies via supermarkets. Consumer preferences have subsequently switched to MD2 away from the varieties which previously dominated the market, including the Ghanaian grown Smooth Cayenne. Ghanaian smallholders have experienced a dramatic drop in the demand for Smooth Cayenne and are unable to switch to growing MD2. The Ghanaian pineapple sector is consequently being restructured with large-scale pineapple farms, principally run by transnational companies, growing large quantities of MD2 for export. Through a detailed empirical study of the changing livelihoods of pineapple growers in two settlements in Ghana, we show how smallholders have been affected in differing ways as transnational companies have increasingly entered the market. Recent attempts to incorporate smallholders as producers of niche pineapple products are discussed. The paper illustrates the mutual benefits of linking global value chain analysis with livelihood analysis.