Costa Rica’s National Banana Corporation (Corpana) believes that their vast experience of more than 20 years of growing sustainable products will help them support retailers in their key markets of Europe and the United States at better prices.
Corbana director Jorge Souma said the sector took advantage of the Madrid stock market earlier this month and already the price of bananas on the shelf has risen. Now he hopes that all the improvements in Latin American developing countries will translate into better producer prices.
Costa Rica is one of the top three banana exporters in the world. In 2021, the country exported 129 million cartons of bananas weighing 18.14 kilograms each or about 2.3 million tonnes. Target markets are mainly America (34%) and Europe (61%), mainly Netherlands, United Kingdom, Italy, Spain (6.63%), Belgium, Portugal and Finland. For the current season, Carbona predicts a 9% drop in exports.
“We have managed to increase the average yield per hectare to over 3,100 cartons. We reached our maximum export figure 3 years ago with 131 million cartons. But now the situation is very unpredictable. We actually expect to export 9% less. Challenges in transportation, increase in container charges and more expensive fertilizers. A As an association, we give credit to our farmers so they can buy enough crop protection products. We give them enough time to repay that loan. We’re always positive. We’ve seen the retail price of bananas go up because of the lack of bananas on the market in Madrid, mainly because Ecuador exported less. But we don’t know if it will continue for the rest of the year,” says Souma.
“I was very impressed with this year’s fruit attraction, which was very well organized. I congratulate the Ifema management. We had many meetings with buyers from different countries and were able to explain to them more about the strength of our Costa Rican banana. For example, we have been working on sustainability for more than 20 years. We’re coming in. We’re recycling 100% of our plastic, there’s no waste water in rivers, and we’re reducing the use of crop protection products by almost 50%.”
“Additionally, there is the social aspect. Costa Rica has very good laws. Education is free and compulsory for children aged 1-6. Primary education is also paid for by the government. We pay our workers high salaries. We place great emphasis on the importance of good working conditions. Economic sustainability is another area of focus. . All these efforts should ensure that consumers gain more confidence in our fruit, and there should be a price in return. We also make those efforts to protect farmers. For example, 100% of farms adhere to waste management and recycling protocols, 93% of packing plants have water recycling programs and affect It is noteworthy that more farms (63%) are certified carbon neutral by accredited organizations. In the short term, it should be 100%.”
“Twenty years ago, supermarkets did not have a strong role in the value chain. Now they are more important than trading companies. The weak position of bananas in the market is worrisome. I don’t know why we are buying at low prices. We need to ensure that the price bananas rank high when it is the best fruit. Means a higher price.”
“Meanwhile, the EU Green Deal foresees a number of measures that will drive up costs. We are in a very special situation because the prices of everything from fertiliser, transport, cardboard and plastic are rising. All sectors have been affected by Putin’s war. . We have taken a number of measures and made recommendations to retailers. , but essentially Aldi has indicated that they will not cut prices. They will focus on the social aspect and change their policy,” Souma explains.
Corpana is a private-public company that acts as the official promoter and regulator and manages a scientific research center and pilot plot in Costa Rica. Corpana will host the International Banana Congress in May 2023. The conference will be held in Miami, USA due to the risk of contamination by visitors from growing regions around the world.
“More than 500 million people in the world rely on the banana sector as a source of employment or as a staple food. We are open to exploring other markets, but transportation takes longer and the price is higher when the fruit requires more protection.” , concludes Souma.
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