Ecuadorian banana exports to Germany have fallen considerably this year with importers in the European country favoring Central American fruit, according to an industry representative.
Richard Salazar, president of Ecuadorian banana association Acorbanec, told FreshFruitPortal.com the situation was because of the higher prices of the fruit compared to competitors, mainly caused by the minimum price set by the country’s government last year.
He said that in the first few weeks of 2019 exports to Germany were around 20-25% lower than average.
“They are not buying as much and buying from Central America instead because they cheaper than Ecuador at the moment,” he said, adding that other importing countries were beginning to do the same thing.
He said that Ecuador's prices had effectively increased due to the minimum price of US$6.30 per box that exporters pay growers, as implemented by the Agriculture Ministry in October last year.
“At the end of the day we have a law in Ecuador that we have to comply with and a price to comply with too … however, the effect that we have had has been a reduction in purchases from Ecuador,” he said.
He added that Ecuador also faces higher shipping costs than countries like Guatemala or Costa Rica to reach Europe due to the longer distance and having to use the Panama Canal.
The U.S. and Europe receive around 45% of Ecuadorian banana exports, with almost all of the rest going to Russia.