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Cameroon opens up to imports

The Cameroonian company UNAPAC, which produces bananas and pineapples, was one of the African market’s representatives invited to the French fair Medfel as importers.

The Cameroonian company UNAPAC, which produces bananas and pineapples, was one of the African market’s representatives invited to the French fair Medfel as importers.

“We have also begun our fruit import activity with French apples this year, with to 2 or 3 containers a week,” said Jean-Marie Sop.

With 23 million inhabitants, Cameroon is one of Africa’s stable markets and is accessible to imports, with a 20% customs duty. “The big retailers have also begun to get established, generating more imports,” Sop said.

Several French channels such as Casino, Leader Price and Système U are already present. UNAPAC also imports pears, table grapes and plums from Europe, as well as citrus from Morocco. France, Italy, Belgium and Spain are the main suppliers.

“The transit time from Le Havre is about 15 days, but we are hit by high freight cost that’s too high, around €3,500 per container.”

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Nahder & Ibrahim has over 5,000 acres of bananas under cultivation

Nahder & Ibrahim, Bahrain’s leading distributor of fruit and vegetables, has been successfully developing banana operations from the Philippines. L

Bahrain’s leading distributor of fruit and vegetables has been successfully developing banana operations from the Philippines.

Launched 12 years ago, this includes production on more than 5,000 acres of its own banana plantations, as well as distribution in Asian markets like China and Japan.

Nahder & Ibrahim also supplies all of the GCC countries, as well as Iran.

“To meet the demands of a growing market for fresh fruit, especially Cavendish bananas, we established NEH Philippines in 2001 in an innovative way.

The company has since built strong relationships with its growers, partners, and customers, “which has helped us to build a reputable name in the international fruit business,” said Abu Hassan.

This article first appeared in edition 143 (May/June 2016) of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read more from that issue here:

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Bananas: 10 years of import regime in the EU

banana ed flr

Who are the winners and losers in the European Common Market 10 years after applying import tariffs?

Since 1 January, 2006, the European Union has applied a new “Tariff Only” import regime, with a tariff of 176 euros per ton for bananas imported from third party countries enjoying Most Favored Nation (MFN) status—mainly in Latin America.

The EU is the largest consumer and importer of bananas in the world, followed by the US. In 2014, 5.7 million tons of bananas were consumed in the EU (+23% compared to 2005), of which 5.0 million tons (+26% compared to 2005) were imported from third party countries and 0.65 million tons (+2% compared to 2005) were produced internally.

It is worth noting that in that period the population increased by 8%, mainly with the accession of Romania and Bulgaria. In 2014, the share of MFN bananas consumed in the EU rose to 69.5%, while ACP bananas accounted for 19.0% and the EU’s own production the remaining 11.5%.

The main MFN suppliers of bananas to the EU are still Ecuador, Colombia and Costa Rica, which exported 1.47, 1.09 and 0.94 million tons respectively. During the same year, the main ACP suppliers were the Dominican Republic, Ivory Coast and Cameroon, which exported 0.34, 0.26 and 0.25 million tons respectively.

EU’s own production stable

The compensatory aid scheme for banana growers in force since 1993 was abolished at the end of 2006 and, as of 2007, an additional package of €278.8 million for banana aid was added to the funds for the so-called POSEI scheme, which supports agricultural production in the outermost regions of the EU.

An additional amount of €4.5 million overall was transferred to Cyprus and Greece. Bananas grown within the EU accounted for about 11.5% of total EU consumption in 2014. They are mostly produced in the outermost regions (the Canary Islands, the French overseas departments of Guadeloupe and Martinique, Madeira and, marginally, the Azores) located in tropical or sub-tropical areas, as well as certain quantities (approximately 1% of total EU production) produced in Cyprus, Greece and continental Portugal.

These aid mechanisms appeared to be sufficient to keep production running at the same level. A shift is noticed between Martinique and Guadeloupe, with the latter increasing exports to 74.000, tons, up 53%.

ACP (Africa, Caribbean and Pacific) countries

Since 1st January, 2008, the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) banana suppliers who have signed an EPA (Economic Partnership Agreement) have benefited from duty and quotafree access to the European Union market. ACP countries that have concluded negotiations on either a full or interim EPA, including all ACP banana suppliers, are: Belize, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ghana, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname.

The remaining ACP countries that have not concluded EPA negotiations may benefit from preferences in the Generalized System of Preferences scheme, under which Least Developed Countries benefit from the preferences of the Everything But Arms initiative.

The EU continues its longstanding financial support with €191 million for a 5-year period to the banana sector in ACP countries. The Banana Accompanying Measures (BAM) are designed to help those countries adjust to new trade realities. With this tariff and aid, ACP banana-exporting countries could increase exports to 1.08 million ton, up 42% compared to 2005.

The organic/fair trade banana from DomRep is the winner, doubling its exports to 342,000 tons. West-African countries Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Ghana secured their market share in France and the UK at around 550,000 tons. Belize and Suriname also used the aid properly, exporting 101,000 and 73,000 tons respectively and filling the coffers of Fyffes and Univeg.

What was feared came true for all the small Caribbean islands, where the banana export industry is coming to an end. The ethnic population in the UK were not willing the premium to let survive their growers. Haiti is now knocking at the door to open up the market with new organic volumes using a World Bank investment of $27 million.

Most Favoured Nations (MFN) of Central and South America

On 15 December, 2009, the European Commission signed an agreement for bananas with Latin American suppliers. This deal brought the longstanding banana dispute to an end, which soured EU external trade relations for many years.

The United States also agreed to settle their open dispute on bananas with the EU by signing a separate agreement with the EU. According to this agreement, the EU will cut the MFN import tariff on bananas in eight steps, from the rate of 176 EUR/ton to 114 EUR/ton in 2017 at the earliest or 2019 at the latest.

With effect as of 15 December 2009, the EU firstly reduced its import tariff down to € 148/ton. Starting on 1 January 2011, the tariff fell again at the start of each year for seven years in annual changes (€143, €136, €132, €127, €122, €117 and €114).

The EU will freeze its cuts for up to two years if the Doha Modalities are not established by the end of 2013. Then, from 2016 at the latest, the EU will continue cutting its tariff each year, as agreed, whatever happens in the Doha Round, until it reaches €114/ ton on 1 January 2019 at the latest.

In return, Latin American countries and the U.S. agreed to settle the legal disputes still pending against the EU at the WTO and not demand further cuts for bananas in the context of the Doha Round talks on global trade, once they resume. Following the implementation of the agreements, the disputes have been settled as of 27 October 2012.

Reduced duties induced higher imports 

Reduced duties apply in the case of some bilateral agreements with important bananas suppliers to the EU, such as Central America, Colombia and Peru. The agreements with Peru and Colombia have been in force since 1 March and 1 August 2013 respectively.

The agreement with Central American countries entered into force on 1 August in the case of Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. These agreements provide for a gradual reduction of the import duty for bananas from these countries down to €75/ton as of 1 January, 2020. Almost all countries that entered into a preferential agreement appear to have gained in higher exports. The champion is Peru, up 700% to 90,000 tons, whose organic banana is very much appreciated by European consumers.

Colombian exports rose in 2014 to 1.09 million tons, up 21%, and Costa Rica shipped 0.94 million, up 48%. Honduras looked to its traditional market in the US, but reappeared in 2015. The same goes for Guatemala and Nicaragua, which are back with 65,000 and 5,000 tons respectively up to October 2015. Panama closed part of its production on the west coast and decreased shipments to 220,000 tons, 21% less.

Every year, Ecuador is finding it more and more difficult to hold its export leadership. The delay in signing the FTA will hurt it further in 2015 and 2016. Venezuela has been out of business since 2007 and Brazil will soon follow.

Mexico benefits from an import quota of 2,000 tons with an intra-quota duty of €70/ton. It helped to open up the market and exports topped 70,000 tons. Meanwhile, exporters await the arrival of ‘El Niño 2015-16’, which could jeopardize the market very much.

This article appeared on page 44-46 of issue 142 (March/April 2016) of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read that edition online here.

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Banana from Ecuador strengthens its supply

Manobanda group

This year kicked off in January with a peak season for Ecuadorian bananas, reaching historical prices of up to $12 dollars per case.

This was due to a falloff in production volumes from neighbouring countries. Due to weather-related issues, Central America and Colombia presented their lowest production figures this year. In turn, this strengthened the supply from Ecuador in the face of increasingly higher demand.

Manobanda group raises productivity and competitiveness

The year 2014 was a record one for Ecuadorian bananas, but the situation changed in 2015, a year in which the sector went through a scenario of sales slowing down related to the devaluation of the Russian ruble and the strength of the dollar against the euro. Jorge Manobanda explains that “in spite of this, we maintained many clients thanks to the improvement in productivity that the company has achieved and the minimal growth in exports, sacrificing the price of the fruit.”

The surpluses from Central America and Columbia were also a factor that hit Ecuadorian producers in 2015. Added to this there is the fact that the treaty with the European Union has still not come into force, so that Ecuador does not have the tariff advantage enjoyed by other competing countries in the region. “We have a lot of expectations about this agreement coming into force in order to reverse the situation this year a little,” Manobanda states. 

Recently, the national government lowered the benchmark price for a box of bananas, which helps avoid generating false expectations for 2016. Winter in the Northern Hemisphere also creates expectations for an increase in demand, for which “we hope to keep up the volumes with our usual clients and to have competitive prices in order to be able to be present in the markets.”

Although the Manobanda group has always concentrated on maintaining the quality of their bananas, 2015 was a year when their attention focussed particularly on improving their farms’ levels of productivity, which was achieved by about 10-15%, and on reducing costs to be more competitive. Manobanda believes that “the markets and the macro-economic situation will improve in 2016 to create a better environment for the Ecuadorian banana industry.”

This article appeared on page 46 of issue 142 (March/April 2016) of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read that edition online here.

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Bananas overtake coffee as export earner for Guatemala

Guatemala’s banana sector has increased its productivity and therefore its volumes, though prices continue to trend downwards due to a global surplus.

Guatemala – the world’s 10th biggest coffee producer – last year  earned more from its exports of bananas than from coffee.

Figures from the Bank of Guatemala show that last year, the country’s banana exports reached a value of US$ 759.4 million, $96.4 million higher than those of coffee.

According to a report in Prensa Libre, key factors in this were low prices on the global coffee market and the fact that coffee leaf rust, a fungus known as “roya,” reduced the country’s coffee production.

Meanwhile, the country’s banana sector increased its productivity and therefore its volumes, though prices continue to trend downwards due to a global surplus, Bernardo Roehrs, corporate director of banana producer and exporter Agroamérica, was quoted as saying.

Sugar still beats coffee in export value for Guatemala, but amid ongoing low prices for sugar, many sugar producers are switching to bananas, which means a further increase in Guatemala’s banana supply this year, which could make things difficult for the sector, Roehrs said.

FOB value of Guatemala’s general trade exports 1980 – 2015 in millions of US$

source: Banguat

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Peru a world leader in organic banana exports

Peru ranks second globally with its exports of organic bananas reaching US $73 million in the first half of last year

Peruvian banana exports totalled US $120 million in 2014, up 35% on the previous year, according to the Commission for the Promotion of Peruvian Exports and Tourism, PROMPERU. And organic bananas now account for 53% of all organic exports from Peru. The country has become the world’s second biggest exporter of organic bananas, logging trade worth US $73 million in the first half of 2015. Its main markets were the Netherlands with 42%, the US with 27% and Germany with 16%, followed by Belgium, Japan, Finland, South Korea, the UK, Canada and Chile. Shipments throughout the first half of 2015 were up 28% on the same period in 2014. Total certified organic production in Peru in 2014 covered 486,600 ha, around 7% of the total agricultural surface area. The supply mainly consists of bananas (26% growth), the most traded product, and mango (91%). The most important market for these products was the EU, which took 53% of total organic exports – shipped mainly to Holland (25%), Germany (15%), Belgium (6%) and Italy (3%) – followed by the US with a 33% share, as well as Canada, Estonia and Australia, and Asian countries such as South Korea and Japan.

Organic supply growing in value

In recent years, the global trend towards consumption of safe and healthy products has grown stronger. In keeping with this, over January– July, exports of Peruvian organic products reached US $110 million, which meant 7% growth on the same period in 2014, reports Eduardo Amorrortu, CEO of Exporters’ Association ADEX. In 2014, organic banana exports from Peru achieved turnover up 50% on 2013. Amorrortu highlighted a notable change in consumer patterns. “Today there are consumers willing to pay an additional price for these items, which is reason enough to develop and encourage special differentiation strategies.” He also added that opening up and accessing new markets is a dynamic process, driving stakeholders to continually enhance their competitive edge.


Peru flag map: CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons

This article appeared on page 82 of edition 141, Jan/Feb 2016, of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read that issue online here.

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BAMA going greener on banana imports

The Norwegian market leader for sales of fresh fruit, vegetables, berries and potatoes, BAMA, JB, Group (BAMA Gruppen AS) is actively promoting the Norwegian potato and on bananas moving to more environmentally-friendly transport.

The banana and the potato are respectively the fruit and vegetable that BAMA Group sells the most of. Here, in the second part of our latest coverage of BAMA, we look at what the Oslo-based trading group is doing in regard to these high volume products.

Promoting the Norwegian potato

One of the largest projects in 2014 for BAMA Industry was the expansion of BAMA’s potato production site in Rygge, which was set to double its production capacity via an increase in area to 5,200 m2 by August 2015. BAMA is adopting a major focus on product and variant development and new technology to further promote the Norwegian potato.

Asked why BAMA had made this a priority, BAMA Group CEO Rune Flaen told ED that: “Potatoes are the largest product group volume-wise and an important category for BAMA, and they are a healthy product. Our strategy is to increase consumption, especially through product development (processed potatoes), new varieties and by inspiring consumers by marketing tasty ways of preparing potatoes.”

In its 2014 annual report, BAMA said one of BAMA Industry’s most exciting innovations last year was the a range of sous-vide potato products which helped boost potatoes sales.

Bananas: ad campaign brings 6% volume growth

The average Norwegian eats 16.5 kgs of bananas each year, making the banana is the most popular fruit in Norway and BAMA’s largest fruit category, representing 25% of its total fruit volume. In 2014, BAMA ran an ad campaigns that included TV spots with simple messages and information promoting bananas’ health benefits and versatility with a volume increase of 6% the result.

Bananas: Increases in sales on previous year
2014: Volume 6%, value 12%
2013: Volume 7%, value 8%

BAMA achieved this growth despite a tough year “reflected in more unstable international container traffic, with slower transports due to route changes, problems with profitability and stricter controls at EU borders.” The situation created “challenges in getting ­bananas ripened on time, and our ripeners have performed an incredible job every single day to ensure that bananas are shipped out the right colour,” BAMA said in its annual report.

Move to more rail transport

All BAMA’S bananas are imported from South American countries and BAMA says that together with its suppliers, it is taking responsibility for ensuring its production occurs in the most environmentally friendly and sustainable way possible. “All our suppliers are obliged to comply with international GLOBALG.A.P. (Good Agricultural Practices) standards for sustainability and food safety within farming and production,” it said in the report.

It has always transported bananas from South America to Europe by ship, a journey of about nine days. “For many years bananas were transported in container ships to Europe, and freighted onwards by lorry to Norway. In 2009 we changed our transport policy so that the containers were freighted by ship all the way to Norway. Lorries are only used from the harbour in Oslo to our ripening plant. The switch reduced CO2 emissions equivalent to the average annual emissions of 16,800 private vehicles.”

“Rail transport is generally held to be the most environmentally friendly way to transport goods. Our target is for 50% of our incoming transport to be made via inter-modal solutions by 2020. Today this figure is around 12%. When the bananas are ripe and ready to be transported to various parts of Norway, they are increasingly conveyed by rail. In 2014 more than half of our freight was transported to Northern Norway by train. In Costa Rica around 40% of the bananas that Dole produces are transported by train. This form of transport is estimated to be 35% more efficient than road transport,” BAMA said.

Success with ready-to-eat avocados and mangoes

BAMA started offering avocado and mango in 2005 and these products have been a huge hit with its consumers in Norway, where annual per capita consumption greatly outstrips that in the Netherlands and Germany, for instance. BAMA’s avocado sales have increased 400% in volume since then and those of mangos by 600%.
It began offering ready-to-eat avocados and mangoes in 2008, with similar success. Its sales of ready-to-eat avocadoes reached just over 6,000 tons last year, up 170% in 6 years. “Nature’s Pride, our supplier, has been the key to this ripening success,” Flaen said. The Dutch company’s new terminal in Rotterdam is home to nearly 50 ripening sheds, ensuring “the avocados that arrive in Norway have just the right tenderness and appeal.”

sources: BAMA Group 2014 annual report information and phone interview with BAMA Group CEO Rune Flaen

Read part 1: Fresh cuts and berries among priorities for BAMA


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Asia: Still much greater things to come

Asia will be the standout growth opportunity for the global fresh produce trade in the next decade, and its ever-increasing demand is set to have a much greater influence on world suppliers and markets.

Asia’s impressive rise as a fresh fruit importer has been impressive over the last two decades, as highlighted at the latest Asiafruit Congress.

Asia will be the standout growth opportunity for the global fresh produce trade in the next decade, and its ever-increasing demand is set to have a much greater influence on world suppliers and markets.

That was one of the key messages left ringing in the ears of delegates to the last Asiafruit Congress in Hong Kong, which attracted close to 350 industry decision makers from 34 different countries, celebrating its 20th Anniversary.

Panelist John Piper, founder of Hong Kong-based Food Asia Marketing, agreed, suggesting the fruit trade would continue to grow despite recent concerns about an economic slowdown in Asia. “Despite previous global economic dips, Asia has seemed to sail through,” he said. “In Asia, fruit imports are a luxury, but they’re a little luxury that people can afford and will continue to pay for.”

Nick Kukulan, president of Paramount Export Co, was also upbeat, noting that appreciation of fruit and vegetables in Asia, particularly for their taste and aesthetic qualities, was “unmatched” in any other part of the world. “Asian consumers have been a driving force for development of varieties in the US, whether it be with white-flesh peaches or grapes; it’s an incredible place to do business if you follow what consumers want in terms of taste and texture.”

More stimuli for growth, despite recent financial “correction”

Geoff Green, head of Capespan Global Procurement, shared his first-hand insights into the impact on the global supply base, particularly for Southern Hemisphere suppliers who have been shipping much more of their produce to Asia to meet counter-seasonal demand.

“Asia seems to be the only thing on growers’ minds now, whether it’s in Peru, Chile, South Africa or India,” said Green. “With everything being planted, the only thing on the growers’ minds is the Asian markets. They’re no longer planting varieties as they did before for Europe and the UK.”

While acknowledging that China’s economy was undergoing “a long overdue correction”, Piper urged everyone to keep ‘the bigger picture’ in sight. Looking to the next ten years, he said the challenge would not be to grow the market for fresh produce imports in Asia, but rather to keep pace with demand.

Marketing health: a ‘capitalist’ opportunity

Clint Smith of The Silk Initiative and Zhongxing Zhang of McCann Health explained how marketing the health and nutritional benefits of fresh produce in Asia could deliver sales growth.

Smith said Chinese consumers are very conscious about the heating and cooling properties of foods as well as their natural medicinal properties. “It’s about keeping a balance between heating and cooling properties,” he explained. “There’s also much work to be done to educate consumers on less familiar fruit and vegetables.” “Most of us know avocados are very nutritious but when they first came to China, people didn’t like them,” said Smith.

Zhang followed on from Smith’s advice, urging delegates not to be so modest when it comes to promoting the health benefits of fruit. “Let consumers see the link between fruit and its health benefits,” Zhang said. “Communication needs to be changed; nobody has told consumers the health aspects of each specific fruit.”

China’s banana market: opportunities in Southeast Asia

Goodfarmer’s Liu Zijie painted a picture of the opportunity to develop China’s banana market with perspectives for domestic production. Vanessa Perez of Austrade Philippines and Edgar Fernandez from the Philippines retailer Rustan Supercenters outlined the market opportunities in this rapidly emerging South East Asian economy. James Christie of US-based market development agency Bryant Christie also led a breakout session on the changing landscape in terms of maximum residue levels across Asian countries, with expert insights from colleague Matt Lantz and from John Chapple of Hunter Food and Agriculture Services.

China & Taiwan: huge markets for NZ cherries

Taiwan and China are the main two markets for NZ Cherry Corp with approximately 60% of its volume going to these two markets. Chinese customers seek big, red, firm and juicy cherries, it reports. “We believe we have the best quality from NZ and are in a good position to provide the size, quality and packing the customers need. We harvested 510 tons this year and we expect a better season for the coming year, thanks to an increasing number of growers in our company. We are currently working on some projects to increase our production quantity.”

Asia: a growing opportunity for Indian produce too

Asia is also giving growing market opportunities for Indian produce. One of its top 7 exporters, Seven Stars Fruit, confirms they are already exporting to Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and the ME market too, though their main export market is Europe, especially the UK and Germany. “This is our 2nd time at AFL. We are here to find new opportunities for grapes, pomegranates and onions in South East Asia. This year, we have also started a banana plantation of 35 ha to get year-round production and we expect the first harvest in April 2016,” say their managers.

Seven Stars Fruit is a major exporter of Indian fruit, especially pomegranates, table grapes, mangoes and bananas, and they are looking for opportunities in onions and potatoes in the Far East and Russian. Last year, Seven Stars Fruit exported table grapes from a total production area of 1,200 ha, and pomegranates from an area of 200 ha. Seven Stars works closely with growers and has developed the web app “Farm View” for growers, the production team and their customers, which will help to monitor production on the farms, packing operations and traceability for their customers. This will ensure monitoring of pesticide residues and food safety, which are major concerns for the EU market.


This interview first appeared on p38-39 of edition 139 (Sept/Oct 2015) of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read more of that issue online by clicking on the image of it here:


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China’s banana consumption doubles over a decade to 9.5kg per capita

China’s per capita consumption doubles over a decade from 5 to 9.5kg, and imports quadruple to 1.5 billion tons.

China is the third largest banana-producing country in the world after India and Brazil, but ahead of Ecuador, the largest banana-exporting country. The banana is a major cash plant in southern China and has earned a good reputation among consumers, fostering employment for over 2 million people. Over the last 10 years in the southern equatorial Chinese areas, mainly in Guangdong and Hainan provinces, 12 million tons of fresh bananas have been produced on an area of 413,000 hectares now, up from 295,000 ha in 2006. In the same period, the yield per ha has increased by almost 20% to 29 tons/ha. It is said that China has now reached its maximum production capacity. The land suitable for banana planting is exhausted, while some areas are susceptible to tropical storms and even typhoons and flooding. Also, China’s domestic banana production capacity is unlikely to expand significantly due to constraints on transportation, labour and environmental costs. Over the last decade, the banana industry has feared the outbreak of a banana plant virus on the continent called Panama Tropical Race 4 disease, which could spread quickly in the main commercial production areas of the Cavendish banana. Today, the Chinese population of 1.4 billion consumers is getting richer and needs more fresh fruit as they recognize its health benefits. The consumption of all fruit is increasing, including bananas. Chinese consumption of bananas is catching up with the rest of the world, last year reaching 9.5 kg per capita and per year, compared to the U.S. with 13 kg and the EU with 11 kg. Domestic production meets the vast majority of China’s demand, with only 5-8% satisfied by imports. In the second half of 2014, the El Niño effect appeared in force, bringing drought to the Western Pacific region. Banana production on technified banana farms in South China and neighboring countries like the Philippines saw reduced yields.

High costs with domestic supplies

Local produce is fighting for its market share against imports as it faces higher costs of transporting bananas from some major production areas to the north-eastern cities. Banana imports increased substantially in 2014, even in the southern city of Shanghai. During the first seven months of 2015, imports rose by 30% and reached 715,000 tons, of which 200,000 tons were Ecuadorian bananas. At the same pace, China will import 1.46 million tons this year, almost three times the amount in 2013, taking a 12% market share. Dalian is the main banana port in north-eastern China, where the major banana companies have their logistical hubs. Dole Philippines leads with the largest market share. The Sumitomo group from Japan ranks second and has its own large-scale banana plantation in the Philippines with the banana brand ‘Gracio’. It takes 30-40 days to ship bananas to China from Ecuador, but the Ecuadorian banana’s competitive pricing versus Philippine bananas has led many importers to make the switch.

Stronger demand ahead for Ecuadorian bananas

The demand for Ecuadorean bananas is rising and it may continue to grow strongly in the years ahead. Indeed, the major shipping lines have made extra reefer space available. CMA-CGM is now offering a new service provid- „Peru, world’s second largest organic banana exporter Peruvian banana exports amounted to US $120 million in 2014, representing an increase of 35% on the previous year and a 53% share of total Peruvian organic exports, reports PromPeru. The country is now positioned as the second largest exporter of organic bananas worldwide. The main destination markets were the Netherlands with 42%, the USA with 27% and Germany with 16%, followed by Belgium, Japan, Finland, South Korea, the UK, Canada and Chile. In the first half of 2015, shipments of this product amounted to US $ 73 million, in other words 28% more compared to the same period in 2014. ing faster and more direct access to the Chinese market, with controlled atmosphere reefer containers guaranteeing fresh quality on arrival. The ship arrives in Guayaquil from China carrying electronics, toys, raw materials, and general consumer goods. It leaves Ecuador bound for Mexico, then South Korea and China, carrying a shipment of Ecuadorean bananas. However, banana growers in several neighboring countries in south-eastern Asia (such as Vietnam, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia) also seek an outlet and are looking to enter China. Demand for higher quality imports will get stronger, particularly in the big cities. Chinese producers have been warned: an upgrade to their cold chain management system is mandatory. 


This article originally appeared on page 74 of edition 139 of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read that issue online here.

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EU High Court fixes €9.8M banana cartel fine on Del Monte & Weichert

Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc. and a previous distributor must pay a fine of €9.8 million for fixing banana prices between 2000 and 2002, following a decision by the European Union’s highest court.

Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc. and a previous distributor must pay a fine of €9.8 million for fixing banana prices between 2000 and 2002, following a decision by the European Union’s highest court.

On Wednesday, the European Court of Justice reversed an earlier decision by the General Court to reduce the fine by 10%.

The General Court had granted the 10% reduction of the fine to Del Monte and the previous distributor, Hamburg-based Internationale Fruchtimport Gesellschaft Weichert GmbH & Co. KG (Weichert), in respect of Weichert’s cooperation during the European Commission’s investigation into a banana cartel.

But the higher court said the General Court made an error in law by granting the reduction… “to Del Monte and Weichert in respect of Weichert’s cooperation during the administrative procedure, even though Weichert’s conduct could not be regarded as revealing a genuine spirit of cooperation.”

Among its findings, the European Court of Justice said “Weichert merely replied to a simple request for information, it is clear that it did not provide information to the Commission without having been requested to do so.”

It said that a fine reduction “…is justified only where an undertaking provides information to the Commission without being asked to do so. It is established case-law that the conduct of the undertaking concerned must not only facilitate the Commission’s task of establishing the existence of the infringement but also reveal a genuine spirit of cooperation…”

“Any other interpretation would undermine both the purpose and the incentive effect of the leniency provisions as, first, it would have the effect of granting to all parties participating in a cartel a reduction of the fine if they provided to the Commission, at the Commission’s request, useful information and/or evidence and, second, it would encourage undertakings to adopt a ‘wait-and-see’ approach rather than supplying the Commission, on their own initiative, and as quickly and as comprehensively as possible, with such information and evidence.”

Background to cartel probe

According to information published by the Commission, the cartel investigation started with surprise inspections in 2005, prompted by an application for immunity by Chiquita.

“The Commission found that banana importers Chiquita, Dole and Weichert participated in a cartel between 2000 and 2002 in violation of Article 101 TFEU. The cartel members coordinated the setting of their quotation prices for bananas in eight EU Member States.

“At the time of the infringement, Weichert was trading mainly Del Monte branded bananas and was 80% owned by Del Monte. The cartel affected Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Luxembourg, The Netherlands and Sweden, where the combined retail value of bananas sold in 2002 amounted to around €2.5 billion,” it said.

In a press release in 2008, the Commission said that the banana business is organised in weekly cycles. “During the relevant period the importers of leading brands of bananas into the eight EU Member States principally served by North European ports set and then announced every Thursday morning their reference price (their “quotation price”) for the following week.

“On numerous occasions over the three year period there were bilateral phone calls among the companies, usually the day before they set their price. During these calls the companies discussed or disclosed their pricing intentions: how they saw the price evolving or whether they intended to maintain, increase or decrease the quotation price.”


European Court of Justice judgment
European Commission