During May, bananas averaged 61.7 cents a pound at retail nationwide, down from 62.1 cents in April but up 8% from 57.1 cents in May 2010, according to Labor Department data. Retail prices for fresh fruits are expected to rise 3% to 4% this year after falling 0.6% in 2010, according to a government forecast.
Bill Sheridan, vice president of sales with Banacol, a global fruit marketer based in Miami, said shipments from his company’s farms in Colombia were critically low early this year and probably will remain low through July before recovering as production normalizes.
Despite the supply problems, Sheridan said he’s seeing great trends with bananas that he expects will continue.
“Our customers are reporting good, consistent sales of bananas and would not be surprised to see the category consumption go up again this year,” Sheridan said in a June 29 e-mail. While retail prices are higher, bananas are still a “great value” in relation to other fresh produce items.
During the first four months of this year, the U.S. imported 1.48 million metric tons of bananas and plantains, up 1.4 percent from the same period in 2010, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture. Last year’s U.S. banana and plantain imports were valued at more than $1.78 billion.