European banana market prices the highest in a decade, says supplier

More News Today's Headline
European banana market prices the highest in a decade, says supplier

A banana supply shortage in the European market caused by widespread production issues in the Americas has sent up prices to levels not seen in around a decade. 

Weather-related problems have affected banana-growing areas in much of Mexico, and South and Central America, resulting in much lower supply in Europe that normal for this time of year.

Netherlands-based suppliers say the undersupply situation first took hold in January and is expected to last for at least another few weeks.

"The main reason is the cold weather in Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico, floods in Costa Rica, and also cold weather in Ecuador," Anaco & Greeve owner Robert Greeve told Fresh Fruit Portal.

He explained that Ecuador - the world's leading banana exporter - has generally been less affected by adverse weather than Central American countries, but volumes were still 'disappointing' compared with previous years.

"As there's a shortage in those four countries everyone is now looking for Ecuador. Colombia was affected but it’s improving at the moment," he said.

Greeve said the low volumes have sent prices soaring in the European market, in what could be described as an 'extreme situation'.

"I’ve been in the banana trade for more than 25 years and these prices have not happened since 2009 or so when we had very high prices - since then it never happened. It’s really crazy," he said.

The shortages were first felt around mid-January and he predicted it would be another month or possibly two before the situation returns to normal. 

Green bananas re-exported to Russia

A representative of another banana supplier, Van Geest International, said the company had last week received communications from the heads of multinationals Chiquita and Del Monte explaining they were currently experiencing production issues.

Sales manager Den Van Ende explained that in addition to the adverse weather impacting on the banana plantings, the heavy rain and flooding had also affected logistics, with many roads damages and some ports temporarily closing.

"All that has created huge delays and shortages in supply from southern America at the moment," he said.

"Undersupply started about two or three weeks ago and the forecast is that it will be at least three weeks from now until they will be able to get the situation under control leaving southern America, so that means that before the effect is noticeable here on the European market it will be another six or seven weeks I suppose."

He said it was mainly wholesalers and traders who were seeing the biggest supply issues at the moment, as most supermarkets across Europe would have covered themselves with seasonal contracts.

Van Ende also noted that many of the green bananas being shipped to the continent were then being sent on to Russia, where there are is also a major shortage at present.

"What I understand from my banana suppliers is that more than 90% is being re-exported to Russia unripened, so basically they sell through the green fruit. It seems that there’s quite a shortage there at the moment and that is the main outlet for the banana trade at the moment here in Europe," he said.

Subscribe to our newsletter