Weather problems in the Philippines in 2014 created opportunities in the Asian market that Ecuador’s banana exporters hope will endure.
Ecuador has always exported to Asia. But until now, only insignificant volumes were being shipped, because even though the quality of Ecuadorian produce was better than the local supply, the shippers could easily be priced out of business. Year-end figures for 2013 showed exports of just 3 million crates. But in 2014, the Philippines had weather problems and was unable to supply its market share, leaving the window open for Ecuadorian operators to export an impressive 16 million boxes.
Asian consumers really like Ecuadorian bananas, which is why the country’s exporters forecast that these quantities will be repeated for 2015 and 2016, or even increased slightly up to 17 million boxes. Even when Philippine fruit comes back onto the market, it seems likely that Asian consumers will continue to appreciate the good prices and high quality of bananas from Ecuador. But this all remains to be seen, depending on market stability.
For Ecuador, last year 2015 was unusual, with constantly low prices. Historically, the campaign is split into two periods: high prices and low prices. Annual report graphs outlined how one season and the high-priced period minimised the losses that occurred during the low price periods. When doing the books, it was usually considered a “good” season. Nevertheless, in 2015 the price of Ecuadorian banana suffered no periods of variation, and instead remained stable. This new model gave rise to concern and uncertainty in the sector, with exports to Asia most likely to suffer.
This article appeared on page 80 in the News section of edition 141, Jan/Feb 2016, of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read that issue online here.