Supplies of organic bananas are slim currently.
“It’s that time of the year when supplies are tight mainly because of the season and the cold weather. Bananas are usually tight mid-January to the beginning of June,” says Mayra Velazquez de León of Organics Unlimited based in San Diego, CA. She notes that Hurricane Iota, which moved through in November of last year, left its mark on Central America. “It was really badly hit by hurricanes. Those places are tight on bananas right now,” she says, noting banana supplies come largely from Ecuador but also Guatemala, Colombia and Mexico.
Mayra Velazquez de León and her daughter Daniella who also works with the company.
That said, Velazquez de León notes that supplies are slightly better right now than this time last year. “It all depends on what kinds of problems there are with weather—hurricanes, cold weather, etc. There are so many factors that we don’t always know what’s going to happen.”
Higher demand period
Yet, the market on bananas is largely the same—January through to May is also the highest demand generally for bananas. “Other fruits start later in the year, so everyone turns to bananas. The production isn’t as high but demand is,” says Velazquez de León. “There has been a little bit of a lift in demand in the pandemic. Bananas overall, both conventional and organic, have picked up a little bit. It’s a fruit people trust because it has the peel and they turn to for a quick snack.”
However, other factors are seriously influencing the organic banana business. “Growers are really battling against the prices. The entrance of multinationals has resulted in downward pressure on price rather than going up along with rising costs, which is dangerous given it is a fruit already sold below cost,” she says. “Consumers want sustainable food. But this downward price pressure, coupled with the costs of growing organic and the demand for an increasing number of certifications, results in a true cost not currently being met with a fair price at retail.”
That leaves pricing generally varied for organic bananas. “During this time of the year, prices go up but every year for the last three years, multinationals have been bringing the price down,” she says.
Velazquez de León adds that this issue doesn’t show any sign of stopping anytime soon. “We didn’t have this struggle until organic became mainstream. We’ve seen consistent growth,” she says. “But organics is not a marketing tool. Organic is real and we need to be able to pay a fair price if we want organic.”