China is the largest producer of bananas, ranking second in the world after India. Since 2015, affected by multiple factors such as sluggish market conditions, banana fusarium wilt, and rising planting costs, banana farmers have seriously abandoned their crops, and the planting areas in major producing areas and provinces have all decreased.
Although the annual output of bananas in China is at the level of 10 million tons, due to the huge banana consumption market in China, domestic bananas cannot fully meet the consumption needs of the people. In recent years, China's demand for imported bananas has continued to rise.
China has five major sources of banana imports, namely the Philippines, Ecuador, Vietnam, Myanmar and Thailand. Due to the geographical proximity of Southeast Asian countries to China, the quality of bananas is also good, and most of the bananas imported by China come from Southeast Asia.
In Europe, Belgium is the country with the largest banana import volume in the EU. The imported bananas are mainly from Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador and other American countries, but the imported bananas are not all for domestic consumption and are mainly used in the re-export trade. According to the United Nations Commodity Trade Statistics Database (UN Comtrade), Belgium and the Netherlands, as the major importers of bananas in the EU. In 2019, the import volume of bananas reached 1,178,200 tons and 1,015,900 tons respectively. At the same time, the export volume of bananas in that year was 947,200 tons and 814,100 tons respectively, and domestic consumption was within 200,000 tons.
China is the fastest-growing market for banana imports
Although both India and China are big banana producers, unlike India, which hardly imports bananas, China still needs to import millions of tons of bananas every year to make up for the market gap. Although China produces its own bananas and ranks second in the world in terms of output, reaching more than 10 million tons, it still needs to import a large number of bananas every year to meet the demand due to the huge domestic consumption market.
Statistics show that since 2017, the annual import volume of bananas in China has been above one million tons, and it has grown at a relatively high rate. The annual growth rates in 2017, 2018 and 2019 were 17.12%, 48.65% and 25.60% respectively, which played an important role in promoting the development of the global banana trade. The emerging banana importing countries represented by China are likely to replace the traditional importing countries, supporting and driving the development of the world banana trade.
On August 2, 2018, China and Cambodia signed the Agreement on Phytosanitary Requirements for Cambodian Bananas Exported to China, opening the door for Cambodian bananas to enter the huge Chinese market.
It is reported that banana plantations in Cambodia are basically not affected by typhoons, and the light and heat conditions are suitable for banana growth throughout the year. It is not necessary to adjust the banana budding period to avoid typhoons and cold waves, as in China. It is a rare high-quality banana planting area. But for years, Cambodian banana shipments to China have been stranded as Cambodian producers and exporters failed to meet China's stringent sanitary and phytosanitary requirements.
At the same time, before entry, all Cambodian bananas exported to China could only be transferred to China through Vietnam (a third country) after meeting the requirements. The freight and cost were relatively high, and the export volume of bananas to China was correspondingly small. Now, with the completion of China's quarantine and inspection procedures, Cambodian bananas are officially allowed to be exported to China, and they can be directly shipped to Chinese ports. Cambodian bananas that save on freight will be more competitive in the market.