Importers and distributors must be able to recognize and select the best fruits to be supplied to the market, therefore they must be able to assess quality. There are no general parameters, as different factors may vary depending on who is considering them.
"Exporters evaluate bananas based on their size and cleanliness. They then categorize them, but this classification is subjective and varies depending on producers and their country of provenance. Some retailers focus on shelf-life, not considering other important elements such as provenance, seasonality and certifications," reports Alessandro Dal Bello, vice-president of Dal Bello Sife.
Paradoxically, the most important element for some retailers seems to be the price. "I believe there are some objective elements that must be kept into consideration when assessing banana quality. Provenance is an important factor, as not all countries are able to produce high-quality fruits due to their climate but mostly due to their land management and agricultural policies."
"Another factor is the time of the year linked to the place of production: we know that, if bananas grow during a period characterized by heavy rain, they can deteriorate quicker due to a shorter shelf-life. On the contrary, if they grow during a dry spell, they may have trouble ripening and have size problems."
"Producer sorting is essential: fruits must be sorted based on the international certification obtained. Quality recognition may have an effect on the final price, but it is essential. Appearance is also fundamental to determine fruit quality, and guaranteeing homogeneous sizes and cleanliness is a significant aspect."
"Once they reach Europe, fruits are ripened in units. This stage has a considerable effect on the quality and shelf-life of the product."
"If bananas are ripened too quickly, in fact, shelf-life will be shorter. A good ripening company respects ripening times to supply the market with produce that maintains its organoleptic qualities and with a longer shelf-life."