The price difference between Canary bananas and those from other origins is huge at the moment. In the wholesale market of Mercabarna, in Barcelona, while bananas from other origins cost 0.80 Euro per kilo on average, those from the Canary Islands reach an average of 2.80 Euro per kilo. Why are Canary bananas so expensive?
"This has been an absolutely exceptional year for bananas, and not only due to inflation and the war in Ukraine, which have caused costs to increase, but also to the impact of the La Palma volcano," says José María Ruiz, manager and founder of Plátanos Ruiz, a company specialized in the ripening and distribution of bananas for more than 55 years and based in Mercabarna.
It should not be forgotten that, in addition to the plantations destroyed by the lava itself, the ash, which piled up, reaching over 3 meters in height, devastated the production of the southwest of the island, which is the main banana production area in the Canary Islands. "I was in the area a few months ago and the truth is that it is spectacular. Many greenhouses collapsed under the weight of the ash and other plantations were left without water because the lava destroyed the pipes that supplied irrigation throughout this part of the island," says José María Ruiz.
"As in the case of another ripener and marketer of Canary Island bananas, our best quality bananas come from this producing area, where the two main suppliers were deeply affected by the impact of the volcano. From the end of September until the end of 2021 there was a very low supply of quality Canary bananas on the market. Those who sourced from Tenerife or Las Palmas de Gran Canaria had a good product and did very well. However, from the end of April and beginning of May, the production of Tenerife and Las Palmas fell and when it was really the time for La Palma's production to be in full swing, their volumes had been reduced by about 35-40%," he says.
While 5,200 tons of Canary bananas arrived to the Iberian Peninsula in week 26 of 2021, in week 21 of this year this volume dropped to 3,979 tons. "As a result, the price of Canary bananas has more than doubled throughout the year. At the moment, the most common price of Canary bananas is 2.80€ per kilo, while bananas from other origins cost around 0.80-0.90€ and are one of the cheapest items on the market, even during the summer," says the ripener and marketer.
The demand has been affected by the high prices of Canary bananas. "There are consumers who have been unable to find Canary bananas in certain sales channels and many others have preferred those from other origins because of their considerably cheaper price. More Canary bananas have been sold in Barcelona than in any other Spanish city, either because of the purchasing power or because they are willing to pay the price differential for quality reasons. At the same time, the big importers have reduced their purchases of bananas due to the high freight costs and this has, to an extent, led to some price increases," concludes José María Ruiz.