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Banana market troubles set to extend into March

The banana market continues to endure major ups and downs, as the majority of the growing regions continue to experience various problems. A number of issues, ranging from weather-related events to political turmoil, have affected most of the major banana growing countries in recent weeks. 

"We mostly import bananas out of Ecuador," said Emil Serafino of Exp Group, based in New Jersey. "Other significant banana producing countries have had major problems in recent weeks. Chiquita workers have held strikes in Honduras, together with general political unrest in the country. Guatemala has been experiencing cooler weather conditions, while Costa Rica has seen tremendous amounts of rainfall which has caused delays in the fields as well as logistically, at ports and on roads. Meanwhile, Fyffes in Colombia have missed 2 out of the last 5 shipments."

Turmoil bringing spark to the market
Ecuador is an exception however, as they are enjoying smooth conditions, and as a result are experiencing significant demand. With all the troubles surrounding the broader market, suppliers are looking to Ecuador to fill inventory and prices are very high. 

"Ecuador is the only major producer where it's business as usual, and therefore demand has been very heavy," Serafino continued. "When problems occur in other countries, they all run to Ecuador. The FOB price is extremely expensive at the moment. We pay contract rates, however we have been forced to pay above that to secure supply. It's provided a spark to an otherwise steady market. Many feel that banana prices have been too low for too long and this kind of a shakeup reminds people of the value of the commodity."

Anthony Serafino showing ripened bananas

Another four weeks
Suppliers have noted that the issues in Central America and Colombia have started to settle, however it will take several more weeks for this to filter through and settle the market. Demand will continue to be high, meaning that prices will also remain elevated for the short term.

"We expect the market to remain active for at least another 4 weeks, with a normalizing to occur in the middle to end of March," Serafino said. "On the wholesale level, demand continues to be very high. Traditionally, this part of the season is a high volume period and the recent issues have come at this time, creating a perfect storm. Last year at this time, sales were flat."

For more information:
Emil Serafino
Exp Group, LLC
Tel: +1 (201) 662-2001

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