Ecuador boosted banana exports through April, expects low spot market prices to continue for weeks - FreshFruitPortal.com

Ecuador boosted banana exports through April, expects low spot market prices to continue for weeks

Ecuador boosted its banana exports by 9% during the first four months of 2020 despite the challenges stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The country managed to increase volumes to 139m boxes during the four-month period, according to figures from the country's banana industry body AEBE.

That came despite some logistical issues in the country and in the destination markets, it said.

The uptick in shipments was driven by strong year-on-year growth in January and February, with more moderate growth in March and April.

However, AEBE executive director Richard Salazar this week told local media that spot market prices were unsustainably low, currently sitting at almost half of the minimum amount that exporters must pay growers by law.

As of June 15, a box of bananas was fetching around US$3.50 on the spot market, while the pricing floor for payments to growers is currently US$6.30.

According to Salazar, spot market prices could remain that low until around week 32.

"People want bananas, but they want them cheap," he was quoted as saying.

In the first four months of the year Ecuador sent 29% of its bananas to the European Union, 21% to Russia, 15% to the Middle East, 9% to the U.S., and 7% to the Far East.

Other major Latin America banana exporters - Costa Rica, Colombia, and Guatemala - also managed to notch increases during the start of 2020. 

In the first quarter, Costa Rica saw a 9% rise to 33m boxes and Colombia boosted volumes by 19% to 29.6m boxes. The figures mark a recovery in production levels in both countries after they were hit by adverse weather last year.

Guatemala's banana exports rose by 10% in the quarter to 30.8m boxes.

Costa Rica, Colombia, and Guatemala sent 53%, 75% and 8% of their shipments to the U.S market respectively, with the former two also sending 15% and 13% to the European Union.