Posted on

Bananas from Ecuador in Asia to stay?

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.

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.

Posted on

US greenlights pepper imports from Ecuador

Fresh peppers from Ecuador may be imported into the United States effective November 23. Under a final rule published by the US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) on October 23, the peppers will have to have been produced in accordance with a systems approach

Fresh peppers from Ecuador may be imported into the United States effective November 23.

Under a final rule published by the US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) on October 23, the peppers will have to have been produced in accordance with a systems approach.

“That includes requirements for fruit fly trapping, pre-harvest inspections, production sites, and packinghouse procedures designed to exclude quarantine pests. The fruit will also be required to be imported in commercial consignments and accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate issued by the national plant protection organisation of Ecuador stating that the consignment was produced and prepared for export in accordance with the requirements in the systems approach,” it said.

The rule applies to the following peppers:

  • common bell pepper (Capsicum annuumL.),
  • locoto pepper (Capsicum baccatum L.),
  • habanero pepper (Capsicum chinense Jacq.),
  • tabasco pepper (Capsicum frutescens L.), and
  • manzano pepper (Capsicum pubescens Ruiz & Pav.).

According to the rule, fresh pepper yields in Ecuador expanded from about 12,522 pounds per hectare (pounds/ha) in 1996 to approximately 66,361 pounds/ha in 2006. APHIS estimates imports of no more than 10 containers (200 MT) of fresh peppers from Ecuador into the US annually.

“This quantity is equivalent to less than 0.02 percent of annual U.S. fresh pepper production. Similarly, the estimated quantity of fresh pepper imports from Ecuador (200 MT annually) is minimal compared to the total quantity of fresh peppers imported by the United States in recent years (800,000 MT annually).

“In the United States, the average value of bell pepper production per farm in 2012 was approximately $52,300, and the average value of chili pepper production per farm was approximately $20,700. Both levels are well below the small-entity standard of $750,000.”

Posted on

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.

Posted on

Concerns about Ecuador’s new tariff surcharges

Imported fresh fruit – including oranges and pears – is now subject to a 45% tariff in Ecuador.

Imported fresh fruit – including oranges and pears – is now subject to a 45% tariff in Ecuador.

This comes under a new system – designed to help the country surmount a drop in oil prices and dollar appreciation – which applies surcharges of 5–45% for a period of 15 months on a wide range of goods.

According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), the measure was effective as of March 11 and impacts at least 461 food and agricultural product tariff lines.

A report by the USDA Foreign Agriculture Service said it will have a significant impact on the US. “This measure can potentially transform Ecuador into mere bulk commodity (e.g., wheat and cotton) and intermediate goods (e.g., soybean meal) export destination,” it said.

The Andes news agency reports there are also concerns about the move in Chile, which last year exported nearly 61,000 tons of apples to Ecuador.


la Agencia de Noticias Andes: Ecuador will explain safeguard measures to Chile
USDA FAS GAIN report: Ecuador Announces Unilateral Safeguards on Food and Agricultural Products
Image: Flag-map of Ecuador by Darwinek via Wikimedia Commons



Posted on

Developing economies: key to the future?

Screenshot 2015-02-27 at 20

After record exports in 2014, experts are looking at where new markets can be found for banana leader Ecuador
Banana exports worldwide totalled 872.9 million boxes in the last campaign, representing 4.4% growth compared to 2012. Some 74.3% came from Latin America, where Ecuador is the undisputed leader with 259.3 million boxes, followed by Costa Rica with 106, Guatemala with 104.1, Colombia 95.5 and Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Peru and Nicaragua bringing up the rear.

The forecasts fulfilled for 2014 show greater growth in global production, which would be 6.3 %, equivalent to 927.8 million boxes, with the lion’s share going to Latin America, Asia, ACP and the European Union at similar percentages to 2013.

What is striking is the Latin American countries’ share in this growth. As in previous years, Ecuador leads the field in banana exports, but with a remarkable growth of 13.8%, representing 295 million boxes, a figure forecast to reach over 300 million for 2015.

Guatemala would be the second largest exporter in 2014 and 2015 with 114.5 and 123 million boxes respectively, with Costa Rica in third place at 107.5 and 105, a slight drop in the second year analysed.

The other producing countries hold the same positions as in previous years. So, pride of place in Latin America’s share in the banana trade goes to Ecuador with 42.9%, followed by Guatemala with an average of 17 % for both years, Costa Rica with 15 % and Colombia with 12.8%.

Read the rest of this article on page 78 of edition 135 of Eurofresh Distribution magazine.

Posted on

11th International Banana Forum set to start in Ecuador

Banano foro

Concern over EU restrictions on organic banana imports

The 11th International Banana Forum begins tomorrow in Guayaquil, Ecuador, with the theme “Towards increased competitiveness and productivity.”

The three-day event will see evaluation of the outlook for the sector next year and options for eradication of the leaf-spot disease Black Sigatoka, among other key issues.

While it’s a generally a good moment for the banana sector, Eduardo Ledesma, executive director of the Association of Banana Exporters of Ecuador (AEBE), recently told the digital channel VITOTVO he sees two major challenges.

One is Fusarium wilt (Panama disease), which has decimated thousands of hectares in Asia, Africa and Australia, and the other is the EU restrictions on marketing of organic bananas treated with mineral oil, due to health concerns.

Ledesma said a big investment is needed to develop an oil that can be registered in export markets and used for both conventional and organic crops. Such an investment is unlikely to be made by the government but would be possible for the private sector, which could recoup its costs in countries such as Colombia and Costa Rica, which use more such oils than Ecuador, he said.

The banana forum, which runs from October 14-16, is set to receive more than 3,000 domestic and foreign visitors.
Click here for more information.