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Low Mexican temperatures thin Canadian imports

Fair trade banana consumption still limited in North America

Chilly temperatures in Mexico have affected the import of Fair Trade bananas to Canada.

“Supply has been tough—supply has been down easily by 50 percent,” says Julie Sage of Vancouver, BC.-based Discovery Organics. “Our main supplier is in Colima, Mexico and they’ve had really cold temperatures for many months now. It resulted in really slow growth, less availability of fruit and smaller fruit as well. They had to dial down the amount of shipments that we had planned.”

Since Discovery deals in only Fair Trade bananas, its alternative supply sources are limited and on occasion it has turned to wholesalers in Los Angeles for fruit. “But it’s all been very tight. We’re all in the same boat,” she says.

Photo: Discovery Organics

Demand stays the same

Demand meanwhile has stayed relatively even. “But while demand is stable, the willingness to pay doesn’t go higher,” adds Sage. “It’s a loss leader. If you go into the produce aisle, not only is it the best seller in terms of fruit but it’s also the cheapest—especially when you compare how far away it comes from compared to local apples.”

Photo: Discovery Organics

Discovery, who distributes across Western Canada from British Columbia to Manitoba to Whitehorse, notes that while increase in fair trade bananas is slowly increasing, it’s got a long way to go. “In Canada in 2016, there were 569,000 tons of bananas imported into the country,” she says. “Out of that, less than two percent was Fair Trade certified.” However she sees that more and more North Americans are becoming educated about the origin of their food and are continuing to demand more transparency in the sourcing process.

Photo: Discovery Organics

Warming back up
Looking ahead, while until now Discovery has had to accept fruit that was smaller than normal in order to maintain supply, temperatures in Mexico have warmed back up. “They’ve been back to normal for a few weeks now which has been helpful in production,” she says. “Supplies should be easier to get in the next few months.”

For more information:
Julie Sage
Discovery Organics
Tel: +1- 604.299.1684

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