What is Pina (Pineapple Fibers)?

Primary RegionsAs couture bites into fruit as a source of natural fiber, the amount of piña used in textiles is steadily growing across North America. Piña importer Ecossar, is just one textile firm working directly with local artisans in The Philippines, to spread piña's reach. More designers need to experience the luxury of this fruit-based thread, completely derived from pineapple leaves.Washington-based Ecossar is an importer of cloth and accessories made from a mix of piña and cotton fiber, produced solely by artisans in the Philippines. Promoting the general use of piña in the US, Ecossar helps support Filipino micro-enterprises (usually husband and wife knitting teams), who work to improve the livelihood of their communities through their weaving.

Crop HistoryIn early times in the American colonies, pineapple from the tropics was considered very special.Upon returning home from a long voyage, a tradition began whereby the American ship captain would place a pineapple or top of a pineapple outside his home, to announce his arrival home. The pineapple motif, often stylized, was thence adopted on American furniture, bannisters, glassware, and elsewhere as a symbol of hospitality, and can be seen in early American "pineapple quilts."

Current EconomicsAs textile firms like Ecossar continue to promote the luxury benefits of piña in North America, couture brands such as Rodarte and Oliver Tolentino are already stitching the pineapple fiber into cocktail frocks and evening gowns.
The Hawaiian Islands, which produces more than one million tons per year of this multiple fruit, have ideal growing conditions on the volcanic soils.

Primary Uses

Virginia Status

What Farmers Need to Know:

Pineapple grows well in areas where temperature is mild (24°C) and relatively uniform throughout the year, rainfall is between 100 to 15 cm per year and evenly distributed during the growing season. Planting season is done at the onset of the rainy season.Pineapple may be planted at a distance of 20-25 cm in rows 80-100 cm apart.

Pineapple is a perennial or biennial herbaceous plant about 50-150 cm. tall. It has sword-shaped, long, narrow, fairly stiff leaves with margins, usually spiny except in few varieties. Likewise, leaves are fleshy, fibrous, groove on upper surface, arrange in a close spiral clasping the main axis at their vase. The leaves, particularly of the native variety, produce excellent fiber. The plant produces ratoons, suckers and slips at the base, middle and upper parts, respectively.

Near & Longterm Outlook:

The pineapple (Ananas comosus) is one of the world's most popular and bizarre dessert fruits. Pineapples were eaten by Americans before Columbus arrived in the New World, and the natives called it ananas, which is its name in some languages (e.g., French). Others prefer to use the common name that notes the similarity to a pine cone. In early times in the American colonies, pineapple from the tropics was considered very special, and there was an interest, unsuccessful, to cultivate this crop in Virginia.

Industries that will Benefit the Most.

Apparel | Textiles | Paper | Plastics | Upholstery

National Status

Primary Regions

As couture bites into fruit as a source of natural fiber, the amount of piña used in textiles is steadily growing across North America. Piña importer Ecossar, is just one textile firm working directly with local artisans in The Philippines, to spread piña's reach. More designers need to experience the luxury of this fruit-based thread, completely derived from pineapple leaves.

Washington-based Ecossar is an importer of cloth and accessories made from a mix of piña and cotton fiber, produced solely by artisans in the Philippines. Promoting the general use of piña in the US, Ecossar helps support Filipino micro-enterprises (usually husband and wife knitting teams), who work to improve the livelihood of their communities through their weaving.

Crop History

In early times in the American colonies, pineapple from the tropics was considered very special.

Upon returning home from a long voyage, a tradition began whereby the American ship captain would place a pineapple or top of a pineapple outside his home, to announce his arrival home. The pineapple motif, often stylized, was thence adopted on American furniture, bannisters, glassware, and elsewhere as a symbol of hospitality, and can be seen in early American "pineapple quilts."

Current Economics

As textile firms like Ecossar continue to promote the luxury benefits of piña in North America, couture brands such as Rodarte and Oliver Tolentino are already stitching the pineapple fiber into cocktail frocks and evening gowns.

The Hawaiian Islands, which produces more than one million tons per year of this multiple fruit, have ideal growing conditions on the volcanic soils.

Worldwide Status

Primary Regions

Kalibo, Aklan, is the main and the oldest manufacturer/weaver of piña cloth in the Philippines which are being exported to various parts of the world most particularly North America, and Europe.

Crop History

Pineapple originated in South America, and the Guarani Indians of northern Paraguay were the first to domesticate this crop. During the 16th century, this plant was transported around the world by traders. Pineapples grow well in dry, well-drained tropical habitats, e.g., tropical America, Southeast Asia, and South and West Africa, but about one-third of the world's supply comes from the Hawaiian Islands, where the crop was successfully developed in 1896.

Current Economics

Pineapple silk is considered the queen of Philippine fabrics and is considered the fabric of choice of the Philippine elite.

The available, traditional methods of fiber extraction involve the processes viz., retting, decortication, combing etc., which takes 5-7 days. During decortication, it is difficult to extract the fibers as they are sticky due to the presence of pith thus necessitating the use of chemicals which is not ecosafe. Thus, there is an urgent need for the development of ecofriendly, cost effective technology.

From each pineapple fruit, only 52 % is used for jam and juice production. Remaining 48 % consists of fruit peel and leaves forming the waste. These waste are rich in lignin and cellulose and thus from a very good raw material for allied fibers. Also, Waste disposal is a major problem in these industries because of very high lignin and cellulose content of the waste leaves which is difficult to be degraded, thus resulting in pollution and affecting the environment.

Important Fiber Terms
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