Bananas produced in Mexico are grown all year round, though the first quarter of the year usually sees lower productions than the other quarters. “To ensure a steady supply throughout the year, producers will try to schedule new harvesting areas for this period to compensate,” says Audee Rios Canobbio of Coliman, “but sometimes it is difficult to control.” This year, the Mexican banana producer is looking toward expanding their presence in China now that protocols have been put into place to open up the Chinese market to Mexican bananas.
Large organic offering
Coliman grows their bananas on multiple farms in the Mexican states Colima and Chiapas. The majority of the company’s banana production is organic. Canobbio explains: “Currently, 86% of our production is organic and all of the organic banana production occurs on our Colima farms. We are constantly working on expanding our organic production, and the current number is a 10% expansion compared with the previous year.”
The market for organic bananas has remained pretty stable over the past few years, according to Canobbio. She says: “The organic market is still growing, but at a lower rate. Some markets are more mature with regard to organic produce now, but there are also other specific markets that are still developing. The Japanese market, for example, is still growing and emerging. For the pricing, though, generally the pricing of organic fruit in the markets is stable.”
Weather issues challenge quality
The impact of weather on growing crops is always an important factor that is difficult to control. The bananas grown by Coliman are no exception to this. Canobbio says: “2019 has been one of the years with higher levels of rain in the region of Colima and this really affected the volumes and sizing of the fruit. Weather conditions are getting more challenging each year, and every year we need to work in different practices to minimize the impact.”
Focus on social and environmental consciousness
Coliman puts a big focus on ensuring that their bananas have a positive impact on the world. The company strives to grow the most socially and environmentally conscious organic banana in the world, and Canobbio explains a bit about their process: “First of all, we try to focus on improving the living conditions of the communities where we grow, starting with educational projects, health programs.”
She continues: “With regard to the environment, we have a specific Environmental Plan 2018-2022 which includes all of our projects. In these projects we try to, for example, minimize the impact of agriculture by eliminating pesticides and reducing for conventional farming, and recycling plastics. Furthermore, we also have projects to reuse water and have reforestation projects in the community. Finally, we have adopted 500 hectares of land for the purpose of rehabilitating mangroves.” These are just a few among the many examples of the company’s efforts towards this goal of growing a socially and environmentally conscious organic banana.
Expanding into China
Coliman’s main export markets are in currently in the U.S., Japan, Europe, and South Korea, but they are working on expanding into China in the near future. Canobbio shares: “One of our goals this year is to get organic certified for the Chinese norm. Now that there is a protocol in place to export bananas from Mexico to China, we are looking forward to exploring this new market and opportunity.”
While the company is working on attaining the organic certification that will allow them to export their bananas to China, they have already begun exporting their conventional bananas. “We sent our first shipment with conventional bananas last week, in week three of 2020,” Canobbio says. She adds: “Our plan, though, is to explore the organic market there,” Canobbio concludes.
Fruit Logistica 2020
Coliman will be participating at Fruit Logistica in Berlin this week and can be found in Hall 25, stand B-11.