According to Colombian baby banana growers and exporters, Nativa Produce, this premium product is weathering the war, global shipping and export crises well. Javier López, General Manager of Nativa Produce, based in Cota, Colombia, says their produce is shipped by air to France.
“We produce in the highlands of the Colombian mountains. Our fruit is sent by air. In this way, the flavour and taste are preserved very well, as if it were sent by ship. Our baby bananas are mainly exported to France, where we airfreight around 10-15 tons per week,” says López.
However, they were hit by rising costs as air freight became more expensive following the worldwide airline industry shutdown due to Covid-19 lockdowns. “Air freight prices have increased by 50% and are around $2.50 per kg. A box has a net weight of 3 kg, with a gross weight of 3.5 kg. The freight cost overrun is significant and limits sales."
"Unfortunately ocean freight is impossible to do for us. From harvest to packing, it takes three days to get the baby bananas to Paris, where they are well received, but by ship it would take more than 18 days. This maritime transport cost has also increased by 100%, which is too much. The market is mainly grocers and you need to do big containers if you supply conventional bananas. We don’t have an alternative, we must send the fruit by airplane,” explains López.
Nativa Produce has an association of small banana producers spread throughout the Cundinamarca and Tolima area in Colombia. Individual growers range from small farmers, with only one and two hectares, to those who produce between 10 and 15 hectares of baby bananas.
“The central packhouse, which is Global Gap certified, is located about 150 km from the growers. Nativa Produce supports all producers with the help of two agronomists. They will work permanently to verify the quality and everything necessary on the farms to successfully grow baby bananas for export,” concludes López.