Ananas Anam is an incredible story about creating a unique fabric in the world. Using pineapple leaves from plantations in the Philippines, the company supplies international firms such as Hugo Boss or Paul Smith. The pineapple fiber is processed in Catalonia by suppliers the company found through the Catalonia Trade & Investment’s Supplier Search Service.
The origin of everything: the Philippines pineapple
Ananas Anam came to light 4 years ago as a far more sustainable and respectful alternative to leather, which is highly contaminating. The Global Supply Chain Manager of Ananas Anam, Silvia Colomina, says that the founder "saw on a trip to the Philippines that pineapple fiber had already been used in clothing, and she decided to research this area."
After a few years and with a Ph.D. behind her, the company Ananas Anam, which today has a team of 20 people working on pineapple plantations in the Philippines and 13 other employees in Europe, was set up. With the resulting fabric, called Piñatex, the company manufactures clothing such as bags, shoes or coats.
Catalonia, a pole for textile innovation
Silvia Colomina explains that "we contacted the Supplier Search Service to create a distribution center in Catalonia". Pineapple fiber enters Europe through the Port of Barcelona and it is in Catalonia where Ananas Anam has "a pool of suppliers that develop and finish the fabric, then prepare the orders and distribute them throughout Europe".
Why did you choose Catalonia? "Catalonia is a strategic centre in the textile sector", says Colomina. "Traditional knowledge is rooted here. Although a lot of production has been moved to Asia, the know-how has remained in Catalonia and the local textile industry has found new strengths by investing in innovation", she adds.
A logistics and commercial center
"Catalonia also has a lot of muscle at the logistics and commercial level", continues Colomina, "and from here we can reach the global fashion markets". But not only is the fashion sector interested in Piñatex fabrics: the company is already working on orders for the automotive industry (for vehicle upholstery) or for the hospitality business (for furniture upholstering).
In the short term, the company will move the headquarters they now have in London to Catalonia, due to Brexit: "We want to access European calls for research and R&D projects, and from London, we won’t be able to", says Colomina.
In addition, the company will soon start working on plantations in Costa Rica, where it will copy the Philippines model. "We need lots of pineapple leaves!" says Colomina. Increasing the supply of raw materials is key to being able to manage large orders. "We need several sourcing points because the pineapple plant takes 18 months to grow and can be affected by unfavorable weather conditions", says Colomina.
Incorporating the circular economy is also one of the objectives. And they have already identified Catalan suppliers for that: "Catalan companies are concerned about environmental issues such as water and waste management". What is missing now, she says, is "raising awareness and persuading the end customer that this is not fast fashion: it is another mentality".
Catalonia Industry Suppliers
Ananas Anam took part in the presentation of Catalonia Industry Suppliers, a new online directory that brings together more than 3,000 Catalan suppliers. "It will be very useful for us and we will use it for sure", says Colomina. "It's a quick way to get access to potential providers, but sometimes you need more information". It is at that point that she recommends seeking personalized advice from the Supplier Search Service.
The company plans to achieve a turnover of €1.9 million this year and has the financial support of several international investors who are concerned about sustainability. What is their key to success? Colomina is very clear: "This is a product that has revolutionized the world of textiles thanks to the team behind it, from the farmers in the Philippines to the commercial team", as she concludes, "We are like a family".