Ecuador, the world leader in banana exports, had a year to forget with an estimated loss of over $258 million, and -6,57% decrease in exports from January to December 2022. This large drop is mainly due to the Russian war in Ukraine, internal strikes and the dollar appreciation against the Euro. According to José Antonio Hidalgo, executive director of the Association of Ecuadorian Banana Exporters (Aebe), last year started with a lot of issues that impacted their exports.
Up to December 2022 accumulated exports were 354.6 million boxes of bananas, compared to 379.54 million boxes in 2021. The top three export markets are the European Union in first place with 26.35%, Russia with 23.43% and the Middle East with 15.28%. The three regions acquired 65.06% of the Ecuadorian banana supply.
Exports to the European Union decreased by -9.15%. According to the Aebe report, in the period from January to December 2022, Ecuador has reached a preliminary shipment of 83.09 million boxes to Russia. This level is 2.93 million boxes below the monthly export potential that it could have in this market in a situation without conflict. “The closure of ports in Ukraine has prevented access to banana exports to this destination, which is why Ecuador accumulates losses of around 590,000 boxes until December. In the period (January-December) around 1.31 million boxes have been sent to Ukraine. The loss in shipments to Russia and Ukraine is estimated to be close to 3.52 million boxes between January and December 2022.”
At the regional level, the largest reductions in banana boxes are evident in Africa, the US and Oceania. Africa reduced its imports of Ecuadorian bananas by 34.50%, going from importing 25.25 million boxes in 2021, to 16.54 million boxes in 2022, that is, 8.71 million boxes not exported to this region. Likewise, the US decreased its level of imports of Ecuadorian fruit by -12.54%, that is, 4.67 million fewer boxes exported to this destination in 2022 compared to 2021. Oceania is another region that reported a reduction in the amount of fruit, in 2021 a total of 3.52 million boxes were exported to this region, while in 2022 the export level went down to 3.11 million boxes, that is, 0.41 million boxes that were not shipped in this year. Besides the Russian war in Ukraine, strikes earlier in the year in Ecuador as well as cold weather were some of the major factors that contribute to the lower exports.
“We started 2022 with a lot of issues. There was price increases on cartons, freight and fertilisers. When the conflict between Ukraine and Russia started the first eight weeks were tough and uncertain. After these forced stopped weeks we suffered through producers being unable to maintain some plantations during these tough weeks. Some producers dedicated to these markets suffered on productivity. Also during the last few months of the year the temperature in Ecuador became cooler. This also impacted the production,” stated Antonio Hidalgo.
The Aebe report quantify the losses from the Ecuadorian strikes and dollar appreciation against the Euro as follows. “Losses in banana box exports due to the protests during June is estimated to be close to 3.22 million boxes during weeks 24 to 26. Estimated losses caused by the euro-dollar exchange rate are close to 3.03 million boxes of bananas during the months of July through December. It is estimated that the losses caused by the aforementioned situations are close to 9.77 million boxes of bananas during the year 2022. In other words, of the -24.94 million boxes that were not exported compared to 2021, 39% of these boxes are due to the Russian war, strikes and dollar appreciation.”