The Philippines is the third largest producer of pineapples globally. Pineapple production in the country is dominated by two multinational corporations — Dole and Del Monte — which both have plantations in Mindanao. Their presence and operations in the Philippines are not without controversy but I won’t get into the politics. For now, I’ll stick with their canned pineapple.
Dole canned pineapple used to be cheaper than its Del Monte counterpart. Not anymore. For some reason, the prices are now practically the same so it was just too tempting to put the two brands side by side for comparison. So we did. Speedy and I bought their 234-gram pineapple chunks and here’s what we found out.
Note that the following covers pineapple chunks. We’re not saying that the same results would apply to the sliced pineapples and pineapple tidbits.
Let’s start with the price. Shopwise Antipolo prices: Dole, PHP21.50; Del Monte, PHP21.95. A mere PHP0.45 centavo difference, you’d say.
Dole has a pull tab; Del Monte does not. If you never thought about it, canning forms part of the cost of canned fruit. If one brand can afford a pull tab and still be cheaper, well, that’s really food for thought.
Let’s go and see the pineapple inside the cans.
The Del Monte pineapple chunks are cut smaller than the Dole pineapple chunks. What’s the significance? It’s a marketing strategy, really. For some people, more pieces means more although that may be more apparent than real. I mean, in terms of mass, four smaller chunks might really be less than three larger chunks.
From another perspective, for the average consumer who thinks in terms of number of pieces that will be divided equally between so many persons, well, he’d go for the brand with more pineapple pieces, won’t he? Let’s say Juan has an eatery and he serves a dish with pineapple chunks. Naturally, for the customer, it’s not really the volume of pineapples that will make a dish attractive but, rather, the appearance — and more pieces on a plate sort of gives an impression that there are more pineapples than there might really be. Same is true in, say, a family of four of six or eight…
So much for the size. Let’s move on. What about the texture? The chunks in the Dole can were firm; the chunks in the Del Monte can were rather soggy as though they came from overripe fruits. But, despite the seemingly better texture, Speedy had a criticism against the Dole chunks — they contained parts of the tougher and more fibrous core. In the Philippines, the core of the pineapple is not considered edible.
What about the taste? They don’t differ all that much. How can they — they’re both canned with syrup already. The natural sweetness of fresh, not canned, pineapple is easier and more fair to compare and judge. We’ll do the fresh pineapple face-off another time.
Okay, if you just want to eat the fruit out of the can, there’s really no substantial difference between the two brands.
If you want to use the pineapple chunks for a salad or a quick stir fry, the Del Monte pineapple chunks would be more practical because of the size and number of pieces.
But if you want to skewer and grill the pineapple chunks like, say, for a kabob? Gee, the Dole pineapple chunks would be the better choice, hands down.