Ecuador has been the largest banana exporter in the world for almost 6 decades, with more than 30% of the global market share for this fruit. The European Union and the United States are important destinations for Ecuadorian bananas, as they purchased 36% of the fruit that the country exported in 2020. In recent years, however, Ecuador has lost market share in these markets.
Shipments to the European bloc were affected due to the high tariffs that the Ecuadorian fruit had to pay, an issue that was solved with the signing of the Multi-Party Agreement with the EU that allows the country to currently compete under the same tariff conditions with the rest of the producer countries.
The problem in the US market is the price of a box of bananas. Competing banana-producing countries, especially Guatemala, Costa Rica, Colombia, and Mexico, have a lower cost because they have a higher productivity per hectare, don't have to pay fees for crossing the Panama Canal, and are nearer the North American ports. In addition, Ecuador has established a minimum support price for the box of bananas, stated Richard Salazar, the executive director of the Banana Marketing and Export Association (ACORBANEC). "Part of this market loss is due to Ecuador's Banana Law, which was issued 21 years ago and focused on the reality of that time, not on the current situation," he said.
According to Salazar, the country is now exporting more bananas to unstable markets, some of which pay less for the fruit. Faced with this reality, the export sector seeks to regain its presence in traditional markets (which pay more per box), improve commercial conditions in additional destinations, and open spaces in new countries.
The Vice Ministry for the Promotion of Exports and Investments (PRO ECUADOR) is working to promote the consumption of Ecuadorian bananas carrying out activities to position and consolidate this product in international markets
The actions scheduled for 2021 have a comprehensive vision and are largely focused on the European market, highlighted the minister of the sector, Ivan Ontaneda. In recent years, Ecuador has reached agreements with EFTA (Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein), the United Kingdom, Chile, and El Salvador, among other countries.
A first phase agreement was also reached with the United States and the country is working to achieve adhesion to the Pacific Alliance, made up of Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru. "This is an important step for the banana sector because it is the gateway to the Asia-Pacific market: China, South Korea, and Japan," the minister stated.