The results of the first quarter of 2020 reflect the investments that Ecuador's banana sector made in 2019. The 4,000 new hectares of banana plantations and the renovation of 4,000 hectares, which began to produce in 2020, allowed exports to rise during the first three months of the year by 9.51% over the same period of last year, totaling 104.3 million boxes.
However, despite the year-on-year increase, the coronavirus pandemic has impacted the evolution of exports in 2020. The sector started the year with its right foot forward. In January it exported 37.6 million boxes, i.e. 18% more than in the same month of last year. Then, due to the expansion of the pandemic, exports decreased. In February the sector exported 33.6 million boxes and 33 million in March.
Russia, Poland, England, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Greece, Belgium, Spain, Eastern Europe (with Ukraine and Georgia), the Middle East, and other countries stopped buying because they were not selling the amounts that they normally sold.
In addition, the logistics to distribute the fruit and the closure of borders due to mobility restrictions adopted by governments to slow the spread of the virus led to a reduction in scheduled purchases.
According to Richard Salazar, executive director of the Association of Banana Exporters (Acorbanec), even though the export volume increased when compared to 2019, the impact from January to February was of around 60 million dollars because prices fell as supply exceeded demand.
The sector regained market in the European Union
Despite the downward trend in total exports between January and March, during the pandemic the banana sector regained markets in the European Union (EU). Export to the EU increased by 19% when compared to 2019, a year in which they decreased by 15%.
The Middle East increased purchases by 46.86%, Eastern Europe by 37.60%, EFTA by 37.25%, the United Kingdom by 21.78%, the United States by 20.85%, the European Union (27) by 17%, and Russia by 16.09%, among others.