The coronavirus health crisis and the measures implemented to stop its spread halted banana production in the Philippines, the second-largest exporter of this product worldwide. According to Stephen Antig, executive director of the Association of Philippine Banana Producers and Exporters, it is estimated that shipments abroad could drop by almost 40% compared to 2019 when the country exported 4 million tons of fruit.
According to Antig, banana exports will continue to be affected after the restrictions are lifted, as social distancing measures that limit the number of workers on the plantations will be maintained. "Bananas must be harvested every day," said Alberto Bacani, the president of Unifrutti Philippines. "When we return, a lot of that fruit will spoil and will have to be thrown away."
Bacani said that banana imports from Japan may be affected because many farms that export the fruit to the East Asian country are in quarantine. "In the next two weeks, there will be a drastic reduction in the volume of bananas in Japan," he said, adding that other exporters like Ecuador can fill the gap.
According to a 2020 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Philippines accounted for approximately 20% of global banana shipments in 2019 and approximately 90% of the total volume of exports in Asia, as its two main markets are China and Japan.
According to data from the organization, since the 1990s world banana production has grown by 30% and it is estimated that the total value of international trade in this fruit varies between 4.5 and 5 billion dollars annually.