One day in 1865 Mr Charles Purdon entering a barber’s shop in Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape was taken by some pineapples which had come from Natal. The barber, Mr Lindsay Green gave him some of the pineapple crowns (or tops) and this was the beginning of what is today one of South Africa’s and the Eastern Cape’s largest industries – pineapple growing.
It is sometimes contended that Jan van Riebeeck first introduced pineapples into the country in 1665,while others claim that the first pineapple plants came from Ceylon and were planted in Natal which is still a large pineapple producing area but the Eastern Cape (especially the Bathurst area) pineries have developed far beyond Natal in the quantity and quality of fruit produced. The Bathurst area alone delivers over 135 000 tons annually to the factory in East London
There a two varieties of pineapples commercially grown in South Africa, the smooth leaf Cayenne and the Queen. The Cayenne is the largest crop and is the only variety suitable for canning. It is very much larger and has a lot of juice.