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Maxim Balakarev - Sky East UK

Effects of pandemic still to come for banana trade

Green Line fruits is a dynamic brand of fresh bananas recently introduced to European markets.

The brand has associated farms across Central and Latin America with particular strength in Guatemala, Costa Rica and Ecuador. There is also a partner-company in Ecuador which manages exports and all operations with local farms.

"The majority of Ecuadorian fruits are shipped to Russia. Our main source of fruits for EU and UK markets is Guatemala due to its high-quality standards, full compliance with all EU regulations, GGAP and RFA certifications," explains Maxim Balakarev from Sky East UK.

"In our opinion, ripening services are well developed in the UK and EU now. For this reason we decided to focus on improving our farm's production costs and by doing this making our prices more competitive."

In line with this strategy Green Line fruits cooperates with a few UK based universities to develop environmentally beneficial, organic waste based soil enhancers and further distribute it through associated farmers.

"Such an approach would allow us to reduce the cost of production without reducing the farmer's margins and is fully in line with sustainability growth and eco-friendly farming trends."

Currently, Green Line fruits deliver to Rotterdam and further distributes across the EU and UK. They also have a few well established Dutch based partners who they supply on a programmed basis.

"We supply all sectors, but since we work with green bananas only, our customers are naturally either retailers or wholesalers who own ripening rooms. At the moment the European market is weak, while there are number of factors that should push demand for bananas up in the near future."

Maxim explains that, due to the lock down in Ecuador, farmers were not allowed to treat farms against Sigatoka properly. This will reduce production in Ecuador and he expects that over the following weeks prices will skyrocket there. This will affect prices in other banana supplying countries as well.

"It is also hurricane season in Central America.and according to forecasts, this year is going to be one of the worst hurricane-wise. By using this reasoning it is possible to predict that production in some Central American countries will be further reduced.

"Higher temperatures in Europe over the past few months have pushed people to consume more summer fruits such as melons, watermelons and stone fruits rather than bananas but it also shortens the season. Moreover, high temperatures affect citrus crops – such as oranges and mandarins – making the price higher. Citrus season is about to start and if the price is higher than customers expect - bananas might become the most demanded fruits again.

"As for the effect of the pandemic on the banana supply – I would not say that we have seen the full effect of it yet. So far we've faced demand reduction due to closure of many public places, but in terms of production – we haven’t seen COVID related changes yet, although we expect some in the near future."

For more information:
Maxim Balakarev
Sky East UK

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