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"Producer, importer, and ripener margins are almost nonexistent; it's a massacre for the sector"

It's been a catastrophic summer for imported banana prices in Europe

This is the lowest price reached by bananas at this time of the year in the ten years that the Fruitrop economic research unit created within CIRAD (Center for International Cooperation in Agronomic Research for Development) has published its barometer of European import prices. Bananas have collapsed on the market as the price of an 18.5 kg box of bananas stood at less than ten euro this summer. In fact, one has to go back to 2011 to find such a catastrophic summer in terms of prices on the European continent.

An excessive offer
These prices are, as is often the case, due to an oversupply. Plantations have increased considerably in recent years, and exports from the four main Latin American suppliers (Ecuador, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Colombia) have exploded. As a result, there is a yellow tide sweeping the market, and nothing seems to stop it at the moment. Not even the two late 2020 hurricanes in Honduras and Guatemala managed to shake the market for more than a few weeks.

These minimum prices affect professionals in areas where production is more respectful of social and environmental standards and where producers are less competitive, so they could lead to a reduction in the number of small farms that do not have the resources of the large structures capable of responding to the European distributors' tenders that are dragging down prices.

Producers in the Ecuadorian countryside are already beginning to protest the fall in sales prices while production costs, especially electricity costs, increase.

"Currently, producer, importer, and ripener margins are almost nonexistent; it's a massacre for the sector," stated Denis Loeillet, a researcher at CIRAD. "Who can resist with such low prices?" the expert asked.

Organic bananas are not immune to turbulence
In this context, the price difference between organic and conventional bananas has also narrowed significantly. That's not a good sign. The low prices of organic bananas inevitably raise doubts about the quality of the systems that produce this fruit.

"We would like to know how suppliers manage to keep their prices so low," Loeillet stated. Below a certain price, organic products can only be 'fake organic', i.e. a product that certainly doesn't use phytosanitary products to obtain certification, but that cannot meet the soil fertilization standards for organic production -which must be organic and non-mineral- because this fertilization has a cost. As a result of these low prices, people nowadays are very suspicious of overpriced organic bananas, he added.



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