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Virus is about to affect banana supplies

Is seems the coronavirus pandemic may limit supplies of bananas in Asia. Growers in the Philippines, the world’s second-biggest exporter, said overseas shipments may drop by nearly 40% this year as lockdowns and social distancing measures curb output and transport.

The country’s exports of the fruit are expected to plunge to about 2.5 million tons this year from 4 million last year, said Stephen Antig, executive director of the Filipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association. Producers, including Unifrutti Tropical Philippines Inc., have halted some operations, he said.

“Bananas have to be harvested every day,” said Alberto Bacani, president of Unifrutti Philippines. “By the time we come back, a lot of that fruit will be spoiled and will have to be thrown away.”

The Philippines accounted for an estimated 20% of global banana shipments in 2019 and about 90% of total export volumes in Asia, with its two major markets being China and Japan, according to a 2020 report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Ecuador is the largest exporter.

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