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Thomas Besnard-Schwerdlin of ABCD de L’Exotique:

“The banana market is a poker game”

When asked about the banana trade, Thomas Besnard-Schwerdlin of ABCD de L’Exotique said: “Importers were all expecting a good trade at the beginning of the year 2017, even in week #01, as the last quarter of 2016 was so bad.” 

"The market, however, only picked up in week #14/2017, when non European bananas started rising in price. We had excellent trade till mid-May 2017”, he says. 

“This was when Ecuador raised their import prices, and in this case, the only motivation was a lack of green offers in the spot trade, not related to an increase of consumption, but due to a higher "bright" in production and increasing productivity in the fields.”
The market this year was then flooded by seasonal produce early in April/May 2017, which caused prices to fall dramatically. “This was very bad for bananas because prices in seasonal products were already low in June”, says Thomas. 

In addition, unexpectedly, there was very warm weather in June in Europe. “That killed the trade completely”, he says. He said that the market is only now slowly starting to pick up since October 2017. “People have lost a lot of money on the import and distribution side since June 2017”, Thomas said.
“The banana trade is very unpredictable”, he adds. “We can’t estimate what will happen in a few months time. Nobody wants to take too many risks this year. But, we are pretty sure trade will not be as bad as it was last year, combined with the effects of the hurricanes on the fields of bananas.” 

Various factors affect the prices according to Thomas. These include the change in suppliers due to the unexpected bad weather experienced in the Caribbean. “The trade is like a poker game”, says Thomas. "This uncertainty is a real chance for spot business, my main thing. It gives me more opportunities and year long contracts are not a real solution today”, he says. “It is about making the right decision at the right time, in a very short time.”
“It’s just a question of what my customers are looking for and what my suppliers have”, he says. 

At ABCD de L’Exotique, which has been a family business for 4 generations, Thomas specialises in the green banana trade. “I have been mainly a banana guy for the last 20 years”, Thomas tells. They sell green and yellow plantains in ABCD for ethical customers and Thomas sells mainly to ripeners and supermarkets all around Europe.

Together, ABCD de L’Exotique and Thomas share a strong knowledge in ripening plantains, mangoes and avocados. They export, primarily, to Western Europe and receive their supply from various countries, including Nicaragua, Ecuador, Colombia, Costa-Rica, Mexico, Africa and Asia.
The company also imports vegetables like OKRA/GOMBO by plane, and all kinds of roots, tubers and peppers.

Thomas Besnard-Schwerdlin will be in Madrid at Fruit Attraction next week from Wednesday till Friday, and will also be in Berlin at Fruit Logistica for the duration of the trade fair.
For more information:
Thomas Besnard-Schwerdlin
ABCD de l'éxotique 
Tel: + 33 1 46 87 21 32
Mob: + 33 6 86 14 82 60 

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