Thailand's pineapple growers have been waiting for a year for the government's promised help for the industry to materialise.
Last July, the government said it would prop up international prices of canned pineapple by conducting exports through a holding company.
The initial idea was that 50 per cent of the shares would be held by pineapple processors, with the Thai Food Processors' Association and the Thai Pineapple Industry Association each holding 25 per cent.
The Pineapple Planters' Association and the National Food Institute (NFI), an independent industrial body, would also each hold 25 per cent. The structure was later revised with the Federation of Pineapple Growers replacing the NFI.
A memorandum of association for Consolidated Pineapple was registered several months ago. But the company, which has three million baht (€73,645) in registered capital, has yet to establish its operations amid differences of opinion.
Pineapple planters claim processors have been uncooperative by raising technical obstacles while the canneries say the selection of shareholders and directors must be handled with care to avoid overseas allegations that Thailand is dumping the fruit at excessively low prices.
One of the tasks of the holding company is to export canned pineapple pieces, a product that usually fetches low prices but attracts allegations of dumping by-producers in importing nations who are anxious to protect their markets.
By channelling the exports through a single holding company, the industry believes the problem could be overcome. As well, the new company's enhanced buying power will enable it to bargain strongly for raw materials.
An official at the Thai Food Processors' Association said the association was selecting shareholders for the new company and considering its possible location.
Thailand produces about 1.6 million tons of canned pineapple a year, of which 1.3 million are exported with little difficulty. But the exports of the remaining 300,000 tons have encountered allegations of dumping and cost-cutting.
Exports of canned pineapple totalled 8.36 billion baht in 2001, up by 6.2 per cent from the previous year while the export of concentrated juice was 2.96 billion baht, up 2.58 per cent.