After tame summer sales, the European banana market is picking up. "Day trade ripened banana prices are up to between €14 and €17. But we've been through a difficult time," says Robert Greeve of the Dutch company Anaca Greeve.
The Panama channel delays have, so far, minimally affected banana supplies. "Ecuador currently has lower production, so most of the fruit comes from the Atlantic side from countries like Costa Rica, Colombia, and Guatemala. They're, thus, on the right side. However, there's talk of making the big ocean-going vessels wait longer at the canal, too. That keeps hanging over the market."
Sales-wise, the banana trade remains very stable, says Robert. "Most eventually find their way to retailers, but food service is a growing market for bananas." Market competition has barely increased in recent years, and that will not change any time soon, according to the importer. "It costs quite a lot to build banana ripening facilities, while the margins are minimal. There are, thus, very few new players,'' Robert concludes.