Supplies of plantains from South America are steady right now.
“We get supplies mainly out of Ecuador and Guatemala. They are both year-round producers,” says Alan Goldberg with A&B Tropical Produce in Miami, Fl. “Supplies are pretty consistent with last year at this point.”
Given plantains are in stronger demand in the colder months of the year, prices can skyrocket, especially for the holidays as demand outweighs supply. “There’s year-round demand for plantains. But in the colder months, it’s naturally stronger for an item like this because it’s a cooking fruit. It fits in with traditional Hispanic dishes and those of other ethnicities who that are the main users of plantains,” adds Goldberg.
Wider appeal for plantains
While plantains are a popular staple item with the Latin American population, it is reaching beyond that specific culture. “All retailers carry plantains and consumption has increased over the years as more Americans discover the “King of the Tropicals” for the first time,” says Goldberg.
And while pricing can fluctuate at varying times of the year—certainly within the peak production period which is the first six months of the year—the variances seen right now are minimal. “Prices right now are a little higher than they were last year,” says Goldberg. “Last year, they were a little lower overall due to overproduction. They didn’t go up as they normally do before the holidays.”
Production of plantains tends to go down the second half of the year although that wasn’t the case in 2018. “We saw production pretty consistent all year, probably due to good weather conditions,” says Goldberg. “And looking ahead in the next few months, we see everything as status quo. We don’t see any slow down at this point.”