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Reaction of BanaBay (Ceinconsa) and Agzulasa (Ecuasabor)

"Our efforts and investments might not be valued"

While Peru announces that its organic banana production has fallen in Piura because of the cold, Honduran bananas are successfully entering the Russian and Ukrainian markets, and the price of this product is on the rise in China. Most of the banana producers and exporters in Latin America are still worried about Aldi's decision to decrease the price of a box of bananas by 1 dollar in 2019, which has caused much criticism, stress and concern in the banana sector.

As published in FreshPlaza, producer associations have joined efforts and published open letters to Aldi. All these letters and articles explain why this price reduction is not a good idea and why it will be detrimental to the banana sector.

Danilo Serrano, the export director of BanaBay (Ceinconsa) said that it would harm the sector economically and socially: "Ecuador's banana sector is already in a delicate situation due to the low profit margins that producers and export companies have. The relentless increase in costs in the chain should translate into an increase in banana prices, but Aldi's decision to reduce them in 2019 using its purchasing power will undoubtedly be detrimental to the banana sector, both economically and socially."

Aldi has made this decision unilaterally, it is unfair and goes against international trade, he stated. "It will simply affect the wages of farm workers, which are already low, and will make any investment in environmental improvements or infrastructure disappear. The time has come to bring together the representatives of the banana sector linked to commercial institutions, policies and consumer protection organizations and civil society, in order to join forces and stop Aldi's decision, which will only further weaken the sector."

Marianela Ubilla, from Agzulasa Ecuador, said this wasn't good news, but that they weren't surprised, as there's been rumors that this would happen for several years. "It will affect Ecuador's banana sector, as well as the other banana producing countries of Central and South America, mainly Costa Rica and Colombia."

"We have worked hard to evolve in recent decades, implementing labor, social, and environmental sustainable practices to produce bananas of a better quality and guarantee for the consumers' health," Marianela stated. In Ecuador, small and medium producers have made efforts to invest in qualifying their farms and to have long-term certifications, such as GlobalGAP, Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade, among other, and ecological certifications, she said. In general, they must comply with different parameters, such as traceability, food safety, work health and safety, soil and water management, integrated pest management and adequate exploitation of natural resources.

New Certification
In addition to the aforementioned efforts, Marianela said, the Ecuadorian banana sector launched, through the number one trade association in Ecuador, AEBE, the new sector certification Premium & Sustainable Bananas during the 15th International Banana Forum held the previous week. "The main objective of it is to certify the quality bananas we produce in Ecuador following good practices, respecting the environment, having good social practices, and a positive effect on the consumer's health."

"The people that plan to lower the price of a box of bananas by 1 dollar in 2019 in the main supermarkets of the European Union don't seem to value all the efforts and investments producers carry out," she said.

Ecuador, as the world's main supplier, will be seriously affected if this becomes a reality, she added. "We would have to look for new alternatives or markets that value the investments we make to produce. We are satisfied with the efforts and investments made. Having a sustainable production helps us preserve natural resources for future generations while contributing to food security," she stated.

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