The banana market is currently stable with supply and demandin balance. Market prices have seen a small increase. However demand is growingin the fresh fruit market, which has allowed bananas to enter new points ofsale. “The portability and value of bananas is making them an attractive itemfor convenience stores, drug stores, gas stations, and cafés to offer to customers,”states Marion Tabard of Turbana.
North America imports bananas from multiple countries, however itrelies mostly on Guatemala, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, and Colombia. 40% ofthe overall banana imports go to the Northeast. “Turbana importsits conventional, Fair Trade Certified, exotics bananas and plantains fromColombia and its organic bananas from Ecuador.”
Turbana has kept many of the same regions and the samegrowers they have previously worked with keeping their acreage similar throughoutthe years. Conventional banana growth has been improved by expanding naturalmethods for pest and disease control. Herbicides are reduced by growersplanting natural hedging to ward off pests. “The coverage around farms, lotsand lands grows instead of weeds allowing us to use less herbicide.”
Banana supply isdirectly correlated to weather, global markets, and global demand. Severeweather at the beginning of July in the growing regions of Colombia affectedthe harvest of bananas and Turbana’s crop negatively by 20% of their volume insome areas for several weeks. “Many plants were lost and the land wasdevastated,” recalls Tabard, “Nonetheless, Turbana was able to maintain itsoverall volume to serve its customers and fulfill its commitments.”
Turbana differentiates itself by being a grower-ownedcompany and offering a hybrid approach to retailers. When retailers buy fromTurbana, they buy directly from the growers. Turbana’s vertical integration provides complete operational control andtransparency. “From the highest food safety standards on our farms to oursourcing capabilities, from the protective plastics and cardboard boxes tointernational shipping, we provide all elements to ensure a seamless operationand top quality fruit delivered weekly to our customers.”
As a grower-owned company, Turbana has been able toimpact communities positively across North and Latin America. Since thecompany’s creation over 40 years ago, for every box of bananas shipped thegrowers and company donate a fixed amount to Fundauniban in the banana andplantain growing region of Colombia. The company’s social foundation invests inmany community based projects such education, housing, healthcare, and economicdevelopment that better the lives of Turbana’s farmers and their families inColombia.
Stemming from the same purpose, Turbana also strives to improve thequality of life across North America among the communities that enjoy theirbananas every day. In 2013 the company launched “Growing Smiles SharingGoodness”, a movement that encourages families to make healthy choices, leadactive lifestyles and get involved in their community. “We are creating opportunities that encouragepeople to make a difference in their own lives while empowering them to promotechange in their neighborhoods”.
Expectations for the company and community bases ofTurbana are optimistic. “We are confident in growing our core business anddeveloping new business for 2015,” states Tabard, “simultaneously we’llcontinue empowering our communities in Latin America and North America bysupporting programs that help them build strong and united communities.”