The situation of banana production in the European Union was addressed in a meeting between the Directorate General of Agriculture of the European Commission in Brussels, the Minister of Agriculture of the Government of the Canary Islands, Alicia Vanoostende, and representatives of ASPROCAN (Association of Banana Producer Organizations from the Canary Islands) and APEB (Association of European Banana and Plantain Producers).
The main issues discussed included trade agreements reached between the EU and third banana producing countries, and the new conditions that the new Green Pact presented by the Commission could establish.
Regarding the progressive reduction of import tariffs for this product, and in order to avoid further damage to European producers, the European Commission ratified at the meeting that, under no circumstances, would they lower the current level of € 75/tons, as previously requested by third-country producers.
Currently, the outermost regions of the Canary Islands, Madeira, Guadalupe, and Martinique produce about 700,000 tons of bananas and plantains per year, which are mainly sold in the European market. However, 75% of the bananas consumed in the EU come from Latin America, whose distribution increased by 27% between 2012 and 2018, from 5.1 million tons to 6.5 million. In addition, the average price of the box of bananas in the EU market decreased by 15% between 2015 and 2018, going from 14.1 to 11.9 euro in that period.
According to ASPROCAN, these figures illustrate that over-supply entails a significant risk of falling prices in the European market, which would be lethal to Community producers, whose production costs are higher, as they respect European regulations and face structural limitations because of the insular regions were they grow this crop.
In this regard, the Ministry of Agriculture of the Canary Islands Government has emphasized the importance of continuously monitoring volumes and prices in the EU banana market, with a specific focus on the markets of Spain, France, and Portugal.
On the other hand, there has been an impact on non-compliance by third-country productions of the social, environmental, sanitary, and phytosanitary standards that the EU requires for European banana and plantain producers.
The Directorate General of Agriculture of the European Commission stated that they were aware of these differences in standards. They also stated that the Green Pact prioritized the environment, but that it was still too early to know how the requirements to third countries would be evened out with the strengthening of the environmental standards for European producers.