Ecuador's Ag Ministry to set minimum banana price in coming days

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Ecuador's Ag Ministry to set minimum banana price in coming days

Ecuador's Ministry of Agriculture will in the coming days establish the minimum per-box banana price, a major source of contention in the world's largest banana exporting country.

After a meeting of the Ecuadorian Consultative Council for Bananas last Friday ended without a consensus on a minimum price that exporters must pay to growers for next year, the decision is now in the hands of Agriculture Minister Xavier Lazo.

Currently, the minimum price is US$6.40 for a box of 41.5 - 43 pounds.

The Ecuadorian banana export industry has long complained that the minimum price puts it at a severe disadvantage to exports in other Latin American competitors like Colombian and Guatemala who can negotiate the price freely with growers.

During the Friday meeting, delegates from Ecuador's banana export industry proposed a reduction to US$6 per box. Marianella Ubilla, president of the board of directors of the Association of Banana Exporters of Ecuador (AEBE), said the proposal was based on a general study of the behavior of the markets that was carried out in conjunction with ProEcuador, in addition to a cost analysis of production.

Meanwhile, banana growers hope to increase the price to US$7.05. During the meeting held in a local government building in Guayaquil, banana growers protested peacefully outside. One grower, José Herrera, said that the proposed increase was necessary as labor and production costs had increased this year.

Ecuador is the world leader in banana exports with a 26% share. Banana and plantain sales represent 2% of the national GDP and contribute 25% to agricultural GDP.

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