The diagram below provides an idea of the range of worker roles involved in pineapple production, from the preparation of land in the field to the loading of pineapples into boxes in the pack house. In red, you can also see the type of agrochemical used at each stage of the process in conventional large scale production.
Conditions are arduous for field workers. Pineapple plants are spiky and difficult to handle, they grow low to the ground requiring workers to stoop over the plants, and the monoculture production method requires that there is no shade over the plants. The majority of large-scale plantations are in operation for 24 hours a day. Workers therefore work in shifts of anything from 8 to 14 hours, which vary depending on the time of the shift.
Work in both the field and the packing plant involves heavy and repetitive tasks that put a lot of strain on the body (i.e., constant bending over to plant seeds, weed and harvest the pineapples). Some companies are however introducing mechanised harvesting which goes some way to reduce the strain on workers.
Photo: Pineapple plantation, Buenos Aires