The Cavendish banana is currently the most demanded variety. However, due to the natural disasters that have affected Central America in recent months, production in Ecuador decreased by approximately 15%. As a result the country won't have the usual levels of production to meet the product requests during these weeks, mainly from Russia and other countries that usually demand more stock for end-of-year celebrations.
The lack of conventional banana production in practically all Central American countries has caused an increase in the demand for Ecuadorian baby bananas.
In terms of prices, there has been a gradual upturn since week 40 of 2017, something that is not typical, but that has occurred this year after the first 15 weeks were very hard regarding marketing prices. Marianela Ubilla, of the Agzulasa production and exporting company, stated: "We think that the current prices will continue high until there are favorable meteorological conditions for the growth and maximum production of banana, according to the change of season we are approaching."
Agzulasa produces and markets yellow Cavendish bananas, red bananas, and baby bananas, as well as green plantain, a staple in Ecuadorian food, "almost as much as potatoes in Spain, green plantains in Ecuador are used for many dishes, but they are also having a great reception in the United States, France, Argentina, Spain, and even in the Netherlands, where they can already be seen in some supermarkets."
This company has developed 4 brands to serve several clients in very small countries that have very close borders, but also in very large countries where they try to supply the most diverse clients. "This is how Ecuasabor, our first brand was born. It's a brand that we try to highlight to make it our banner. Its name is similar to the name of our country, so it could be known all over the world, as Ecuador is mainly recognized worldwide for its banana production," Marianela said.
The company also markets three other brands, the Akebana, Kassandra, and Terravera brands, to pack premium bananas of the same quality. The main objective of Agzulasa is to satisfy some market niches that already exist with the introduction of baby bananas and increase their consumption in these markets, as sales trends have been growing for a few years, and the United States, Russia, and China have been increasing their import volumes. "We have also identified new niches for the baby banana and for the red bananas where there is no economically important consumption, such as in Argentina and in Korea. We have managed to generate a small demand for this product in these markets and, according to our forecasts, demand will continue to increase in the coming years."
"Baby bananas are easy to carry everywhere because of their size. In addition, they have an excellent flavor and nutritional and energy qualities. Consumption among children, a growing proportion of the population, is high. This trend led us to start a project to develop and expand the cultivation of baby bananas, red bananas, and green plantains at the beginning of 2016. However, despite having our own production and the help of some producers from whom we buy, mainly baby bananas, we have not been able to meet the current demand of the markets, so we plan to continue increasing our production and marketing.
Regarding the attack of different pests, such as the RT4 and the black sigatoka, Ubilla said that "prolonging the entry of the RT4 to Ecuador is a great challenge that encourages us to implement more measures for prevention, as we have been doing in the cultural practices that we currently perform. Our great challenge continues to be the development of new varieties that are resistant to these pests, as is the case with black sigatoka. However, despite the drastic climatic changes that in 2017, Ecuador has managed to improve the control of this disease, so our plantations have a better health."
Agzulasa’s plantain planting project began in early 2016. Since then, the American market has been growing little by little. It currently has a growing and quite important economic demand. As such, Agzulasa's goal for 2018 is to position the Ecuasabor brand in the American market. "To meet this goal, we will attend the New York Produce Show, which will be held in New York City from December 12 to the 14," said Marianela Ubilla.
Agzulasa will also be present at the Fruit Logistica fair, Berlin, in February (pavilion 23 D-06).
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