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Eduardo Ledesma, President of the Association of Banana Exporters of Ecuador

"A Brazilian-owned Chiquita could be a threat to Ecuador"

Following the 11th International Banana Forum, organised by AEBE, President Eduardo Ledesma said that "the forum was a success; many conference halls were full and very good business deals were signed with companies such as MSC and Maersk."

There were more than 60 companies in attendance, which were provided with relevant and updated information.

China's great interest in Ecuadorian bananas, the market growth in the United States and Guatemala's imminent position as the second largest exporter were just some of the issues discussed. 

But the issue that recently rocked the banana sector has been Chiquita's acquisition by the Brazilian companies Cutrale and Safra. 

"It could be a threat in the future if they plan on boosting Brazil's banana production, because Brazilians are aggressive traders, but they do not have adequate fruit and I doubt they have the ideal soil and necessary work conditions," said Ledesma.

The Prata, Brazil's own variety, represents 50% of the bananas consumed in the Brazilian market.

"Most people abroad don't even know it. It is a type of tropical banana grown mainly in Brazil and has several features that distinguish it from the Cavendish. It is easier to digest, has a slightly longer shelf life and does not oxidise as easily after processing it," said Heider L. Cabral, market manager for the Brazilian company Abanorte. 

Will the new "Brazilian Chiquita" the one to make the Prata banana a success in the international markets? 

"I believe the Prata cannot compete with the Cavendish, unless the price is much lower and people are willing to pay less for a product that doesn't taste as good," concludes Eduardo Ledesma.

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