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Japan registers fall in fruit consumption amidst high prices

Even though fruit is a significant snack globally, and even vegetables are popular in the Asia-Pacific region (57%), cheese is the most eaten snack in Europe (58%), bread/sandwiches in the Middle East (47%), ice cream in Latin America (63%) and potato/tortilla crisps in the US (63%).

The first half of 2020 saw fruit prices in Japan at their highest levels for a decade. The soaring prices have no doubt contributed to the drop in fruit consumption. Between January and June 2020, the average price of fruit in Japan was US$4.86/kg, compared with US$4.34/kg for the period since 2011, according to data from Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. So, as demand has fallen, the average Japanese household spend on fruit has risen. Fruit consumption has dropped to 31.5kg per household, the second-lowest total since 2011 and 5.5% lower than the ten-year average. Fruit expenditure per household for the 6-month period was 5.7% above the ten-year average, reaching US$153.3, its highest level in a decade.

However, the two categories that bucked the trend are kiwifruit and banana. In the first six months of 2020, banana consumption in Japan was at its highest since 2012, reaching 9.88kg per household. Records were broken for kiwifruit consumption, with 1.23kg consumed per household. The remarkable performances of kiwi and banana have been ascribed to the effective promotional campaigns targeting these fruits.

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Latin American banana sector criticises Rainforest Alliance process

Latin American banana sector criticises Rainforest Alliance process

Latin America’s banana industry has slammed the Rainforest Alliance certifying body for being out of touch with today’s market realities. According to representatives of the sector from Ecuador, Colombia, Costa Rica and Guatemala, which account for a combined 65% of the global banana crop, Rainforest Alliance has failed to consider their opinions when developing certification criteria. Producers claimed that the latest standard published two weeks ago contains crucial differences with the 2019 rules and was not the result of due consultation. 

At a meeting between the representatives of the sector and Rainforest Alliance, the main issues of contention related to the significant challenges facing the region, such as the economic impact of Covid-19, TR4 and Black Sigatoka. The representatives also complained of the pressures from European retailers to impose lower and lower prices. It was also pointed out that the Rainforest Alliance rules do not take into account the social and environmental regulations imposed by individual governments, and that this inclination to regulate in parallel causes inconsistencies in the whole chain, not to mention that it is a sort of regulatory anomaly. Moreover, the decision to ban the use of drones has also been questioned.

The meeting ended with Rainforest Alliance committing to convene working groups between their representatives and Latin American producers. Producers are calling for the RA to delay the enforcement of the new standards until January 2022.

Photo: AEBE

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Vietnamese bananas land on South Korean retail shelves

Vietnamese bananas land on South Korean retail shelves
Photo: Vietnamnews

 

The Vietnamese Embassy in South Korea has held a ceremony to celebrate the arrival of its bananas in the lucrative market. The first of the fruit from Vietnam officially arrived at a branch of the Lotte Mart retail chain near Seoul Station on June 16. The Vietnamese bananas are grown in the Lo Pang highlands in Gia Lai province. Lotte Mart is expected to import approximately 1,600 tons of bananas from Vietnam each year to distribute to its 81 supermarkets across South Korea. Although Vietnamese banana has been exported to South Korea since 2014, it was not sold at large supermarket chains. In 2015, around 180 tons of banana (worth US$132,000) were exported from Vietnam to South Korea, but by 2019, the volume had reached 6,685 tons (US$4.2 million). The South Korean market is a lucrative one, with consumers spending over US$300 million each year on imported bananas. The Philippines is currently the largest banana exporter, accounting for 78.6%, followed by Ecuador (7.7%), Guatemala (5.2%), Peru (5%), Mexico (1.6%) and Vietnam (1.4%).

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Banana sector embracing sustainability

Banana sector embracing sustainability

 

Banana production is increasingly sustainable. This is the finding of a report published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), which notes that producers are subscribing to ever more voluntary sustainability standards (VSSs).

Vivek Voora, one of the report’s authors and an associate with IISD, said, “With standards such as Rainforest Alliance, Organic and Fairtrade, banana plantations are more likely to do things like fairly compensate workers and reduce pesticide use and water depletion. Consumers in North America and Europe are demanding healthier and more sustainable bananas in the marketplace.”

According to the report, there was a 43% CAGR growth in VSS between 2008 and 2016, compared with a 0.71% CAGR rise for conventional bananas. Around 7% of global banana production was certified by a VSS in 2016, a figure which rises to 36% for exported bananas.

 

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Ecuador’s banana exports increase despite liquidity issues

Ecuador’s banana exports increase despite liquidity issues

 

Ecuador’s banana shipments climbed 6.5% during the first four months of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, reaching 135.7 million boxes. These figures come amidst a global pandemic that has hit Ecuador’s banana-growing regions particularly hard.

Richard Salazar of exporter association Acorbanec said, “We continue to export, despite seeing a reduction in demand on global markets, and once this crisis is over we are sure that our fruit will have a great position in the world market. We hope to exceed 2019 shipments, both in volume and value.”

However, all is not well within the sector, with exporters calling for urgent government help to provide liquidity to the sector, which has been severely affected by late- or non-payment from importers in key markets. In particular, Acorbanec is calling for a reduction in taxes and more flexible purchasing contracts.

 

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Calls for supply regulation to protect banana prices 

Calls for supply regulation to protect banana prices 

 

Ecuador’s banana growing area has been heavily hit by the Coronavirus pandemic. Although banana production and exports have remained operational throughout the crisis, demand has dropped by up to 25% due to the disruption of global markets. Richard Salazar of exporter association Acorbanec said, “In the first two weeks following the declaration of a state of emergency, practically everything that was programmed to be exported was shipped, in spite of significant problems with the availability of containers and other production materials, heightened controls and absenteeism of transport workers and other members of the supply chain due to fears of contagion. But markets like Russia, Europe and the Middle East have reduced or stopped banana purchases, mainly due to logistical and distribution difficulties resulting from measures taken by countries to slow the spread of the virus.”

There has been a dramatic slump in prices, which as of mid-April were hovering between US$2 and US$2.5 per box, compared to US$12-15 at the start of the year. To avoid further price falls, Acorbanec is calling for supplies to be regulated immediately until the worst of the crisis is over. “Some importers have fallen behind on payments and others have not been able to pay at all, affecting the liquidity of export companies. And certain clients are unfortunately taking advantage of the crisis to try and lower prices further, which we are resisting,” said Salazar, who added, “Bananas are hugely important for Ecuador’s economy, generating 250,000 direct and indirect jobs and around US$3.1bn in foreign currency. If exports are affected, the economy will pay a high price.”

 

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Slight dip in banana volumes

Calls for supply regulation to protect banana prices 

The global banana production has declined slightly due to lower temperatures in the Tropics. This has driven a general increase in prices (spot prices reached €9.45 per box in week 7). However, Europe has seen very little change in prices as yet. European banana producers in the outermost regions are concerned about a possible oversupply if import tariffs are also reduced for Brazilian and Mexican bananas, following a similar move with Peru, Colombia and Ecuador. The European Commission, therefore, has agreed not to lower tariffs below €75 per ton. 21% of Ecuador’s bananas go to Russia, where they have a 96% market share. Exports to Georgia and Ukraine have also risen sharply lately.

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Ecuador’s banana sector feels pinch of crisis

Ecuador’s banana imports slip in 2021

 

The current global crisis is putting the squeeze on Ecuador’s banana industry, with several factors combining to hamper demand. No bananas are being sent to China for the time being, while elsewhere, the higher reefer costs do not make it worth sending bananas long distances. The disruptions to the global transportation network are causing lengthy delays at the Panama Canal. This factor puts the rival Colombian bananas at an advantage, as they do not need to transit the Canal. All of this comes at a point where Ecuador is expecting to reach peak banana production.

 

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XXIII Acorbat International Congress to take place in Miami

XXIII Acorbat International Congress to take place in Miami

 

On April 29 and 30 and May 1, 2020, in Miami, Florida, the XXIII Acorbat International Congress will be held. This is one of the most important banana events for the sector at the international level. The scientific congress will discuss current issues for the global banana sector. The meeting will bring together representatives from across the world, including widely recognised experts, who will share the most recent research findings and present the latest trends in the international banana world.

This time, the event organiser is the country of Colombia through the Association of Agricultural Engineers of Urabá – INAGRU. The congress will focus on the following topics:

FITOPROTECTION: Management of pests, diseases and weeds.

GENETIC RESOURCES, SEED QUALITY AND BIOTECHNOLOGY: Genetic improvement, seed propagation and biotechnological applications.

PHYSIOLOGY AND SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT: Physiological variables and productivity, management of soil and water resources, adaptation to climate variability and ecosystems.

INNOVATION AND TECHNOLOGY: Innovative technologies, crop agronomy, predictive models and information analysis.

AGROINDUSTRIA AND MARKETS: Postharvest, transformation of and potential markets.

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Successful introduction – the first climate neutral bananas for Delhaize

Successful introduction – the first climate neutral bananas for Delhaize

It is a huge success for BE CLIMATE. As of the beginning of this year, Port International delivers conventional BE CLIMATE bananas to Belgium on a weekly basis – climate neutral from the country of origin to the point of sale, of course. The first brand for climate neutral fruit and vegetables in Europe can be found as class Extra bananas at Delhaize, one of the leading Belgian retail chains. All unavoidable CO2 emissions caused during the cultivation, packing, and logistics process have been compensated in advance with the help of certified climate protection projects. In addition to the conventional bananas for Delhaize, Port International also started the weekly supply of climate neutral organic bananas to specialised organic dealers in Germany in January 2020. Three more European countries have received deliveries, too. 

Managing Director Mike Port, “We are happy to be able to continue our ten-year partnership with Delhaize with climate neutral bananas now. BE CLIMATE will offer our clients and the consumers in all of Europe an uncomplicated method of actively supporting climate protection.” 

Consumers recognize the climate neutral bananas by the BE CLIMATE logo. With the integrated QR code, they can easily and directly check out the concrete climate protection projects they have supported. For the compensation of emissions, BE CLIMATE supports a forest protection project in Peru and a drinking water project in Cambodia. 

BE CLIMATE is the new climate neutral brand by Port International GmbH and was launched in Madrid in October 2019. This brand does not only stand for climate neutrality and sustainable production, but also for selected producers and an excellent product quality. Port had already been trading climate neutral strawberries with success since 2017. From February on, these strawberries will be available from European supermarkets under the premium brand BE CLIMATE, alongside BE CLIMATE blueberries and leaf clementines. 

Port International will attend the coming trade fair FRUIT LOGISTICA, which will take place in Berlin from 5th to 7th of February, and will be available to answer questions and discuss ideas related to BE CLIMATE in the new hall 27 at stand D-22.