Ecuador exported a total of 126.81 million boxes of bananas in the first quarter of 2022, i.e. 6.44% fewer boxes than the same period of last year, according to figures shared by the Banana Marketing and Export Association (Acorbanec).
27.20% of the volume exported went to EU-27 markets (-11.73% compared to shipments made between January and April 2021), Russia received 21.47% of the total (-2.52%, when it had grown by 13.98% in February), the Middle East 16.62% (+37.00%), the United States 9.25% (-24.22%), the Southern Cone 6.48% (-1.04%), East Asia 5.61% (+3.18%), Africa 4.91% (-33.84%), 3.54% was exported to Eastern Europe (-37.09%), 2.56% to Central Asia (+36.39%), 1.08% went to the United Kingdom (-19.09%), 0.75% to Oceania (-12.78%), 0.47% to EFTA (Norway) (+6.78%), and 0.01% to Canada (-53.77%).
This decrease in exports is due to different causes. In the first four months of the year there was a lower harvest of the fruit due to different factors related to the weather and the elimination of active substances allowed in the European Union. An increase in the price of fertilizers also impacted production, Acorbanec stated.
The lack of containers and shipping spaces was also evident between January and March, due to the congestion in important ports, especially in China, and the war between Russia and Ukraine that began on February 24, 2022, deepened the crisis that the sector was already experiencing as these markets used to account for 25% of the country's banana exports.
"In summary, much of the current low-prices issue in Ecuador is due to the loss of competitiveness and the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which led to an oversupply in the rest of the markets. In addition, shipping companies charge extremely high freight values for contract and spot shipments. Furthermore, despite all the increases, supermarkets are not willing to pay more to exporters so they can continue charging low prices for the fruit to consumers."
In the last week of March 2022, Acorbanec visited Brussels together with other guild members of the Banana Cluster, Colombia, Guatemala, and authorities of the Ministry of Agriculture of Ecuador and Colombia. They held meetings with Europarliamentarians, the European Commission, the Directorates-General of Commerce, Health, and Agriculture, and with the large European supermarket chains where they exposed the evident abuse of market power and demanded compliance with shared responsibility because the prices they are paying in 2022 are lower than the ones they paid in 2021.