The port logistics crisis and the high value of the dollar have put to the test the ability of the Colombian banana sector to continue producing the fruit in the midst of the adversities derived from the pandemic and the significant increase in production costs already has an impact on the sector, stated Emerson Aguirre, president of the Colombian Association of Banana Producers (Augura).
“The cost of fertilizers has grown by 120%, resins for the manufacture of protective bags are nearly 80% more expensive, the cost of paper for boxes has increased by 40%, and maritime transport has increased by 40% to 70% in some cases.”
"The average price of a 20-kilogram box of bananas currently stands at $ 8.75," he said. But, is it a fair price?
“A fair price would compensate our effort and commitment in terms of environmental sustainability and labor formality. It would also compensate the banana sector for all the social investment it's made in the regions. It would also compensate us for complying with the European Union's From farm to table policy,” Aguirre stated.
The European Union, together with the United Kingdom, is the main market for the Colombian banana, accounting for 82% of total exports.
“We attended the Fruit Attraction fair, held in Madrid, Spain. We spoke with the main buyers and made a call for shared responsibility so that the prices compensate for the effort we make to produce the bananas consumed in the world. We also highlighted our added values, such as certification in 100% of the producing farms and formality in the workforce. In addition, we emphasized the efforts we made in terms of biosafety protocols to prevent COVID-19 infections among our workforce. We always focus on protecting our workers' health.”
The president of Augura also highlighted the strengths of this Colombian sector. “We closed 2020 with nearly 109 million boxes and grew by almost 6% over 2019. Our expectation for 2021 is that we can grow by 5%, reaching 115 million boxes."
“Our main competitors in the EU are countries like Ecuador and Costa Rica. But there is a big difference between us: the labor formality in the Colombian banana sector and the high rate of associativity. We believe that this gives us comparative advantages to continue growing,” he added.