Colombia: Uniban plans to export 41 million boxes of bananas this year

Uniban SA is the main Colombian banana trader in the country. It accounts for 40% of the export market and generates 3,600 jobs. In 2017, the company exported 40.4 million boxes of bananas, plantain and exotic fruits, worth US$348 million, i.e. 2.8% more than in the previous year. The goal for 2018 is to export 45 million boxes of all of its products, especially of bananas, as the company expects to export 41 million boxes of this year, i.e. five million more than last year (36 million).

The company started in 1966, when a group of producers created the company to sell their own fruits directly to the market. Since then, it has had a sustained growth that has benefited the producers of Uraba Antioquia. In total, the company is supplied by 18,000 hectares sown with bananas, 3,200 hectares of which are owned by the company and the rest by affiliated producers.

The European market represents 75% of the company's sales and the rest is distributed between the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. Andres Moreno, the financial vice president of Uniban SA, said they wanted to boost sales to countries such as Bosnia, Croatia, Montenegro, and Turkey.

A new market that was recently opened to Colombian bananas was Argentina. This happened after the National Health and Agricultural Food Quality Service of that country announced the admissibility of Colombian pineapples to that country.

According to Moreno, this is a very important opportunity, since the company has carried out some export trials to Argentina, but the complete admissibility of the product would be an opportunity for growth. To be more effective, he said, there has to be a higher shipping frequency with the southern country.

"It is a great opportunity. It would really be the first incursion into Latin America," Moreno said.

According to information provided by the Banana Association of Colombia (Augura), last year the country exported 98 million boxes of bananas for US $850 million.

The most representative international markets were the European Union with 76% participation and the United States with 16%. Colombia has 49,307 hectares devoted to producing bananas for export, i.e. 2,035 more than in 2016. 34,789 hectares are located in Uraba, while the remaining 14,518 hectares are in Magdalena, Guajira, and Cesar.

The main objective of the association is to increase productivity and reach 2,200 boxes per hectare per year, which would mean exporting 108 million boxes in 2018.

Colombia can export bananas to Argentina
After announcing the admissibility of pineapple, the National Health and Agricultural Food Quality Service of Argentina announced that the Colombian banana meets all the requirements to enter this market. It will be a very important step not only because of the foreign exchange generated by these exports but also because of the employment generated by these agricultural activities in the country,"said the Colombian ambassador in that country, Luis Londoño.


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