Banana shippers say the market is strong leading into the fall season with steady demand, while supply is a bit low.
Dennis Christou, vice president of marketing for Del Monte Fresh Produce, Coral Gables, Fla., said he does not expect any serious issues this year despite weather events in Colombia, Costa Rica and Guatemala over the past several months.
“The impact of those shortages is currently being felt and will be felt through the beginning of the year. These issues have removed some of the surplus from those producing countries,” he said.
Lower supplies have led to higher prices.
“Pricing has increased due to input cost escalation,” Christou said.
Herb Garritt, senior vice president of sales for Turbana Corp., Coral Gables, Fla., said the company saw a reduction in supply this year but said pricing is also tight.
“Supply itself took a 20% plummet due to the natural disaster experienced early July in our main growing region. Therefore we had much less fruit available in what is usually our supply peak of September through October,” he said.
Mayra Velazquez de Leon, president of San Diego-based Organics Unlimited, also mentioned the weather issues growers have faced so far this year, but said she expects a good fall to follow a strong summer.
“We saw a steady market through the summer. We normally see a slight decline in the summer months with pricing and demand when other fruits are available, but we didn’t see that this year,” she said.
She credits not only a lower production level because of storms, but also increased consumer interest.
“I think ... weather issues affected production and pricing, but demand was very steady so the prices were also steady,” she said.
Other changes within the banana category include industry adjustments, namely the ChiquitaFyffes planned merger that would result in a banana company that controls about one-third of the world’s export banana market.
Many companies are working toward finding balance as markets could shift around.
“While we have seen consolidation among many different participants in our global supply chain, the industry itself is beginning to form partnerships within in order to find synergies and efficiencies to allow for a sustainable market,” Garritt said.
Disease and other concerns also have growers working toward the future.
“The media and the industry have focused their attention toward the Panama disease race 4 (a recently discovered strain of Panama disease) over the past few months. Although our production operations in Latin America have not been affected, measures are being taken by Del Monte Fresh and the industry to avoid the spread of the disease,” Christou said.