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China’s Ban on Taiwan Pineapples Leads to New Food Creations


Chef Hung shows pineapple beef noodle outside of his restaurant in Taipei, Taiwan, Wednesday, March 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)
China’s Ban on Taiwan Pineapples Leads to New Food Creations
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China began a ban on the import of pineapples from Taiwan on March 1. The move led the Taiwanese government to begin a campaign urging its citizens to start eating more of the homegrown fruit.

Taiwan’s President, Tsai Ing-wen, even launched a social media challenge that called on people to eat the nation’s pineapples “until you burst.”

The calls are aimed at supporting the island’s pineapple growers. Politicians from Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party and the opposition Nationalist Party visited farms and took pictures with pineapples and farmers to show their support.

Taiwanese restaurant owners reacted to the ban by quickly trying to create new food offerings that contain pineapples. Some of the examples are pineapple shrimp balls and a nut and pineapple salad. Some existing dishes, like fried rice with pineapple, are also being offered more by restaurants and hotels on the island.

Taipei cook Hung Ching Lung has created a pineapple beef noodle soup at his restaurant, Chef Hung. He says he and his team spent three days testing out ways to combine pineapple and beef noodles. It took about 10 attempts.

Chef Hung cooks pineapple beef noodle at his restaurant in Taipei, Taiwan, Wednesday, March 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)
Chef Hung cooks pineapple beef noodle at his restaurant in Taipei, Taiwan, Wednesday, March 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

“The first time we tested it when we cooked it in the soup, it was very sweet, it was inedible and tasted completely of pineapple,” Hung told The Associated Press. But after many tries, the team learned it was best to separate the pineapple liquid during cooking, which removed an overpowering sweetness.

China has said its pineapple ban was related to a pest issue and denies that it had anything to do with politics. A spokesperson for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said the decision was a necessary and normal “biosafety measure.”

Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the move a violation of “free and fair trade.”

Even with all the excitement in Taiwan, the pineapple ban may not hurt the country’s farmers all that much. A day after the ban went into effect, Taiwanese Premier Su Tseng-chang told local media the amount of pineapples that local businesses and citizens had bought was greater than the amount that would have been sold to China.

Taiwan’s government also promised assistance worth $35 million to help out farmers. And the government says it has received pineapple orders from Japan, Australia, Singapore, Vietnam and some countries in the Middle East.

Chef Hung cooks pineapple beef noodle at his restaurant in Taipei, Taiwan, Wednesday, March 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)
Chef Hung cooks pineapple beef noodle at his restaurant in Taipei, Taiwan, Wednesday, March 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

Taiwan produces about 420,000 metric tons of pineapples each year. About 90 percent of these are sold on the island itself, the Council of Agriculture says. A large majority of Taiwan’s remaining pineapples is sold to China.

It is unclear whether the increase in local orders and those from other nations will make up for China’s ban in the long run. But for now, the move is causing some Taiwanese to feel patriotic.

“We are all trying to find a way to help the farmers,” said Alice Tsai. She recently visited Hung’s restaurant to try the noodle dish, which she said was surprisingly tasty.

“The other day I went to the supermarket and found that all the pineapples were sold out, and I felt very touched,” Tsai said. “Everyone has this feeling of solidarity.”

I’m Bryan Lynn.

The Associated Press reported this story. Bryan Lynn adapted the report for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

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Words in This Story

challengen. a difficult task or problem: something that is hard to do

inedible – adj. not fit to eat

pestn. an animal that causes damage to plants, food, etc.

patriotic adj. showing love and pride in one’s country

dishn. food prepared in a particular way as part of a meal

(in the) long run – idiomatic expression. at a time that is far away or near in the future

solidarity – n. a feeling of unity between people who have the same interests, goals, etc.

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