With over 30 years of experience in banana production and marketing in Ecuador, the BanaBay company has been active in the international export and distribution area for two years now. BanaBay offers a short supply chain, with the freshest bananas guaranteed. The company also runs its own plantations, ensuring its consumers can enjoy great tasting fruit all year round. The top quality bananas that BanaBay delivers are grown on several Cavendish variety banana plantations, located on Ecuador’s most fertile soils, in the counties of El Oro and Los Rios. “We are combining excellent post-harvest and environmental practices, which has enabled us to win over 10 different awards due to the quality of our plantations”, explains the Managing Director. Production practices include careful propagation, transplanting, pruning, irrigation, harvesting and storage, guaranteeing the highest quality and the magnificent flavour of their bananas.
BanaBay is already working in many countries and diverse regions such as New Zealand, China, Europe and the US. In 2013, the family business managed to expand its presence in the European and American markets. Exported volumes have doubled, reaching 2.2 million tons in the last 12 months. BanaBay’s mission is to be the Customers’ First Choice. “We strive to deliver the best quality fruit to our retail and wholesale customers, working enthusiastically, always innovating and delivering top-quality bananas”. The focus on fast reaction and certificated product quality has helped make this start-up a resounding success.
Also present at the 5th International Banana Congress was Manuel Romero, Executive Director of Agroban, the Ecuadorian banana farmers’ association, uniting 52 producers with a total crop area of 8000 ha in Ecuador. “Nowadays the price fails to reflect the banana’s true value and the profit margin is very low”, stated the Agroban CEO in his speech to the 5th International Banana Congress in Costa Rica. This is why the cooperative is interested in going straight into negotiations with supermarkets and providing better returns for its partners. Although Agroban maintains annual contracts with export companies to ship its fruit to the European and United States markets, the sights are set on Asia for growth through direct sales to retail, cutting out the middleman. Negotiations to open up their provisional exports to China began last year and the first export sale was secured in December 2013. “We have managed to reach China with a good product, great quality and still green, in excellent condition. Our fruit has a long hanger life and is very resistant, despite the transit time we have”, concludes Romero.
Based in France, but with close links to Ecuador and a sales span from Hamburg to Vladivostok, Global Fresh Trading coordinates international marketing for the Palmar Group – a family-owned and operated agro-industrial firm with over 20 years of experience in the sector. Global Fresh Trading is now one of the leading suppliers of bananas to Russia, Germany and other European countries and achieves an annual turnover of more than €170 million. Global Fresh Trading is this year looking to diversify its client base geographically, specifically to tap growing interest in the Western European market. At the same time, it is expanding into countries such as the UK, Ireland, Italy and Spain and, as is the case for many companies, also sees China as a very attractive market due to its huge potential.
Initiating business in the Asian region.
After years in the trade, its brand Pretty Liza is very well-known in Russia and, in coming years, its goal is to achieve a comparable level of recognition in Western Europe. In 2013, it exported over 19 million boxes of bananas with 75% going to Russia and CIS, and the rest to Western Europe. In terms of its innovation, Incarpalm, Palmar’s carton plant in Ecuador, has invested in a new printer which will allow photo-quality images to be printed on cartons. Meanwhile, the company’s farm in North-East Brazil is experimenting with a new method of planting banana palms which involves creating “circular nests”. This innovation promises more efficient use of space and irrigation, delivering productivity gains. In addition to its existing organic farms in Ecuador, Global Fresh Trading has recently started a new program supplying Fairtrade organic bananas from Peru to meet demand in Europe. The organic/Fairtrade part of the business is growing every week, in step with the worldwide trend towards sustainability. “We believe this trend is here to stay and are looking forward to developing this part of our business even further,” said Elizaveta Nikolaeva from Global Fresh Trading. The company’s new website – www.globalfreshtrading.com – was launched in time for Fruit Logistica 2014. Additionally, it plans to visit Asia Fruit Logistica 2014 and at the end of the year to maintain its annual participation at WorldFood Moscow. Furthermore, it is in the initial phase of a marketing project targeting the “de-commoditization” of the banana. Participation in Fruit Logistica 2014 was productive for the company, particularly in terms of attaining its main goal of building long-term relationships. Overall, the company reconnected with existing clients and introduced itself to prospective clients in new regions. Given its strategy of expansion in Western Europe, having a big presence in Berlin was the right move for achieving that aim.
“Our brands differentiate through our strong commitment to the producers and our strong ethical commitment through the entire supply chain”. Agrofair was established in the Netherlands in 1996 with the objective of creating direct market access to Europe for small farmers. “We are primarily a production and distribution company, since 35% of our stakeholders are banana producers”, points out its managing director, Hans-Willem van der Waal. Agrofair has defended a complete fair trade concept in its entire organization since it was founded. “We are not just importing Fair Trade and organic products, our entire supply chain responds to the same concept” explains Hans-Willem. The company also answers to the IFS protocol, in the high level category since November. Almost 100% of its farmers are also GlobalGAP certified. As proof of its strong commitment to ethical trade in bananas and sub-tropical fruit, Agrofair received the Coop Swiss supermarkets’ “Natura 2012” award. “We are proud of this recognition, a great award to our engagement with sustainable development and to our responsible support of small farmers”. With 4 million boxes imported annually, bananas represent more than 90% of Agrofair’s business. They come from the major banana producing countries of Latin America, like Peru, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and the Dominican Republic. Other ethical trade products are citrus and various tropical fruits like pineapples, mangoes and coconuts. “We decided to stop with organic mangoes, since they represent a higher plant health and economic risk for our growers. It is a true ethical concern to limit our farmers’ risk”. 50% of volumes are both organic and Fair Trade, to respond to the preferences of the consumers and to the choice of the supermarkets to market them in the same “sustainable” segment. Germany, Switzerland, Italy and the UK are the major receivers of Agrofair bananas. Demand also exists on other European markets but still represents smaller volumes. “There is a potential demand for ethical bananas in the whole of Europe, but it is often limited by the price” considers Hans-Willem. Agrofair also imports 3 to 4 containers of bio & Fair Trade pineapples every week. Peru, Ecuador and Costa Rica are the main origins. 90% of the volumes are shipped by container, for more flexibility between the producer and the customer. Reefer shipments are still used on the direct routes, due to the faster transit time (just 14 days from Peru, instead of 21 to 24 by container). Agrofair bananas are popular under the brands “EkoOké” for both organic and Fair Trade and “Oké” for fair trade, also “Altromercato” in Italy (with the exclusive partner CTM) and “All Good” (with New Zealand partner All Good). “Elephant” is used for conventional bananas, which are also highly appreciated on the markets supplied by Agrofair. The organization has its own technical team in Latin America, based in Panama, in order to assist the growers with integrated quality management. The team focusses on constant improvements with implementation of the multiple quality certificates, organic crop management, research and productivity, traceability, packing and logistics. “Oké is viewed as a direct link between the small producer and the retailer”. PE
A focus on quality has helped Ecuadorian banana firm Delindecsa develop into one of the country’s leading exporters over the last 10 years. Created in 2003, Ecuadorian banana company Delindecsa carried out its first shipment of fruit of 20,000 boxes to Germany in week 43 of that year. Under the leadership of Dr Jorge Manobanda Cedeño, the Guayaquil-based firm quickly became established as the company with the greatest rate of growth in the Ecuadorian banana sector, shipping over 100,000 boxes per week. In 2013, Delindecsa exported an estimated 3.7m boxes of primarily premium bananas to Germany, Russia and the Mediterranean region. Speaking to Eurofresh Distribution, a spokesperson for the company revealed that Delindecsa was anticipating further export volume growth of 8% for the 2014 season. “We will continue working on the basis of providing high quality fruit and efficient services for all our customers, so everyone is satisfied,” the spokesperson said.
“Our production and service to our customers has led to us successfully achieving recognition for meeting the quality and volume demands of our clients. “We export all around the world, but a large part of the fruit that we export comes with GlobalG.A.P. certification for bananas, which gives a guarantee of our social and environmental commitments. “We also count on constant quality verification of the fruit through the hiring of international inspectors who provide quality inspection services for packers at the moment of shipment and arrival at destination,” the spokesperson added.
Expoglobal, with a 40-year track record dedicated to exporting high quality Ecuadorian bananas, are now increasing their penetration in international markets. In the last 3 they have opened up doors in the Middle East and China, where prospection is still in the fledgling stage, but with great expectations of success. Expoglobal currently continue to focus on their target of exporting 100% of their produce. “This year has been rather complicated due to bad prices in Ecuador and the international markets in the first semester, with heavy rains in Ecuador and lower production in general after winter. Despite all this, we were able to keep up our export volumes in a dwindling market. Our sales in the emerging markets of the Middle East, Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea and China allowed us to diversify our markets and reach 20 different ports in 2013”, explains Mathieu Mandon. The Don Alejo brand is present in most international markets, communicating the company’s values and the good quality of their bananas. The security of working with a producer/ exporter was very important for Expoglobal’s customers last year. “This is the secret: working really hard to maintain loyalty and our customers’ acknowledgement of Expoglobal S.A.”, adds Mandon, revealing that estimates for 2014 foresee a 25% increase in sales. “We shall continue to grow in emerging markets while also consolidating our presence in Europe. Although Ecuador is not party to the treaty Peru and Colombia signed with the European Union, it still means that the price will gradually rise in comparison with our Peruvian and Colombian colleagues”, explains Mandon. “As we are producers and exporters, we have great quality control of our production and thanks to this we have achieved a positive balance, despite all the difficulties”, declares Mathieu Mandon. “Getting a foot in the door in China was an important achievement, which shows the headway being made in our market diversification strategy. Rainfall is our in-house company policy of having several markets, both small and large. All of them are important to us.” Today Expoglobal ships its fruit to 19 different ports worldwide.
Since last year, Favorita has been engaged in an intense marketing promotion campaign. It included their logo renewal and now the launch of the new web page www.my-favorita.com . My Favorita® web page is dynamic, colorful and with all the information that the costumers need to know about the product including videos, gallery and their latest development in terms of Social and Environmental responsibilities. This initiative continues the project that started last year and which on one hand will guarantee the excellent quality that has always characterized the fruit from Favorita and on the other will help create a greater bond with the final customer through a friendlier, more modern image. Besides the marketing campaign, Favorita keeps working intensively in developing the business all around the world, specially strengthening the relations with supermarkets and getting involved with the needs to the final customer. One important focus is in special packages for fresh bananas which can be performed at their own farms with the follow up and dedication that special products need and that can only be achieved by controlling every single step in the chain. Favorita has been for many years leader in distribution and marketing of Ecuadorian fruit and controlling the chain from the very beginning at the production until the delivery of the container at destination.