Marianne Van Steen, ambassador of the European Union in Ecuador
In an interview with Elcomercio.com, spoke about the current situation of banana exports from Ecuador to Europe, which have experienced a fall during the last year.
“The banana is Ecuador's flagship product. One out of every three bananas consumed in the EU comes from this country. The product is less competitive now because the dollar is currently very strong. In addition, the increase in the consumption of organic bananas and pressure on prices, especially in Germany, have caused a drop of 9.46% in 2019,” Van Steen stated.
In this regard, she stressed the difficulty there is to control the pressure exerted by the markets on the price of a box of bananas. “Everything depends on the power that importers have. Ecuador may decide to sell to that market or divert the fruit to other destinations. That may cause markets to increase prices.”
“The consumption of organic bananas and exotic fruits is growing a lot. Europeans consider their health very important. That may also be one of the reasons why fewer bananas were imported in 2019,” the ambassador said.
The shipment of fruits from Ecuador to the European continent has increased in recent years. “Avocado has become the most fashionable product in Europe. Exports doubled by 90% in 2019. Likewise, papaya grew by 12% and pineapple by 15%. In addition, there are products that have a lot of potential, such as pitahaya, tamarind, passion fruit, and frozen fruit,” Van Steen stated. However, according to her, the demand for these fruits would not displace bananas. "Of all the fruits that are exported to Europe, bananas continue to be the most consumed. Ecuador is the main supplier of bananas followed by Colombia and Peru.”
“Ecuador has a very high product quality but this is marred by a fairly complex political and economic landscape. The Government has two options: improve their export policy or carry out tax reforms,” she added.
Finally, Van Steen spoke about the EU's reduction of maximum residue limits (MRLs) for imported products. “The decision to reduce MRLs is based on science. It was done to protect our consumers. We have opened the possibility to countries that do not agree to offer evidence if they consider the measure exaggerated.”
“We set the bar very high for bananas and other agricultural products. In other words, we'll only receive products that have the highest requirements and standards. The EU will become increasingly more demanding,” she concluded.