A catastrophic summer for the banana

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The price of banana carton imported into Europe is historically low. In recent weeks, the situation has worsened. And the downward spiral of prices should not stop.

At less than ten euros per 18.5 kg box this summer, the banana has fallen to the bottom of the scale. In the ten years that the Fruitrop business unit has published its European import price barometer, such a low level has never been reached at this time of year. We have to go back to 2011 to find such a catastrophic summer in terms of prices on the European continent.

The offer has inflated unreasonably

These prices are, as is often the case, a reflection of abundance. Plantations have increased considerably in recent years, especially in the dollar banana zone, that is to say across the Atlantic, and exports from the four major Latin American suppliers (Ecuador, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Colombia) exploded. As a result, a yellow tide is sweeping the market, and nothing seems to stop it for the moment. Even the two hurricanes in late 2020 over Honduras and Guatemala failed to thrill the market for more than a few weeks.

These floor-level prices hit professionals in areas where production is more respectful of social and environmental standards and where growers are necessarily less competitive. The risk is the disappearance of certain origins with an inevitable reduction of small farms which do not have the means of the large structures capable of responding to calls for tenders from European distributors, which are increasingly pulling prices down. . In the countryside in Ecuador, people are also beginning to protest against the drop in the selling price while production costs, especially electricity, are increasing.

Today, the margins for producers, importers and ripeners are close to zero, it is a massacre for the sector, summarizes Denis Loeillet, researcher at CIRAD (Center for International Cooperation in Agricultural Research for Development). Who can resist such low prices, asks the expert.

The organic banana is no exception to the turmoil

In this context, the price differential between organic and conventional bananas has also been considerably reduced. And that’s not a good sign. Because low prices for organic inevitably question the quality of the systems that lead to these fruits. “ We would like to know how the suppliers manage to go so low! », Confides our interlocutor. Because below a certain price, organic can only be false organic. An organic which certainly bans phytosanitary products, to obtain certification, but which cannot meet the standards in terms of soil fertilization which must be organic and not mineral in the sector, because this fertilization comes at a cost. Today’s overpriced organic bananas are therefore doubly suspect.

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