The island of La Palma has recovered its banana production capacity, which had been affected by the volcano eruption of 2021. The production of the Canary Islands had been reduced by 15% in 2022. Headquartered in La Palma, Europlátano, represented by 670 producers, was one of the companies most affected by the catastrophe, having lost some 14,000 tons last year.
"Fortunately, our banana yields are back to the levels prior to the volcano eruption. We had a few months of constant heat, which gave a boost to the production process in a period that is not the most favorable for banana sales, namely the summer," said Elisa Martínez, from Europlátano's marketing department.
The Aridane Valley, where Europlátano is located, being buried by lava flows
"Our producers and the technical and quality departments have been working hard for months, but now those of our farms that were not affected by lava are back in production, and we have started reconditioning the land on those that were buried by the lava flows," she said.
"We had to focus our efforts on helping the affected farmers recover their crops and restore their means to make a living, as so many families on the island depend on this activity. The effort and enthusiasm of many producers, who have been working since the volcanic emergency to restore the activity in the affected farms as soon as possible and reach the production levels prior to the eruption, have managed to reverse this situation. During this process, the support of our customers, who have shown understanding and empathy for what has happened, has been key," said Elisa Martínez.
2022 was a really atypical year in terms of prices for the sector. "The shortage caused by the volcano eruption resulted in a lack of supply that pushed prices up and allowed imported bananas to gain market share. This year, prices have been more under control; in fact, they have been quite low in these past summer months," said Elisa Martinez. "Obviously, the shortage of bananas from the Canary Islands last year led to an increase in the presence of imported bananas on the shelves. But in 2023, there's again balance between domestic and imported bananas due to an increase in the price of imported bananas during the first months of the year and the increase in the domestic banana production," she said.
In 2023, the communication campaign of Gabaceras, Europlátano's brand, is planned to run from the end of September to the end of November. "Through it, large-scale distributors, supermarkets or greengrocers will have the opportunity to connect with the end consumer. The campaign, whose slogan is 'To take better care of you', puts the spotlight on everything that is done in the chain to add value to our bananas: caring for the environment, for the Canary Islands, for producers, workers, distributors, wholesalers, greengrocers and, of course, for the final consumer," said the head of marketing of Europátano.
According to Elisa Martinez, one of the main challenges for the sector is the need to require banana imports to meet the same standards and comply with the same regulations as the European production in all matters, such as phytosanitary, environmental, labor, etc.
"We provide a local product, grown under European regulations in terms of food safety, environmental and labor legislation. Given that it is impossible to compete in terms of price, the focus of Canary bananas has to be on quality. At Europlátano, delivering quality is our main objective, and every link in the chain makes its contribution, from the grower to the point of sale. Our advantage is that we have the entire production chain under control, since we have our own ripening facilities on the Peninsula, as well as a portfolio of customers committed to taking as much care of the product as we do."
"However, we can also not forget the challenge of facilitating the recovery of La Palma, especially of those farms that were devastated by the lava flows, and while several already have permits for reconstruction on the lava, they still need funding for it," she said.
Europlátano will again promote its flagship brand Gabaceras at Fruit Attraction 2023, whose 15th edition will be held on 3, 4 and 5 October at IFEMA Madrid. Gabaceras will be in Hall 10, stand 10B12.