Weekly Product Updates

W43: Banana Update

Fresh Banana
Published Nov 1, 2023

In W43 in the banana landscape, experts warn that the Cavendish banana, which makes up 47% of global banana consumption, is facing potential extinction due to a fungal infection known as Panama disease (Fusarium wilt) tropical race 4. This disease starts in the tree's roots and gradually kills the plant, making it unable to absorb water or conduct photosynthesis. While some scientists are researching genetic modifications to enhance disease resistance, there's an alternative perspective that suggests transforming banana production practices away from a single variety may be the ultimate solution. Initially discovered in Taiwan in 1989, the disease has since spread to Australia, India, China, and other regions. Although the fate of Cavendish bananas may not be as dire as that of the Gros Michel variety, which went extinct due to the same disease, experts caution that the impact could be drastic within the next decade. Potential remedies include genetically engineered strains resistant to the disease and the practice of fruit grafting to confer disease resistance.

The Banana Marketing and Export Association (Acorbanec) reported Ecuador's banana exports from Jan-23 to Sep-23 increased by 6.41% compared to the same period in 2022, reaching 273.03 million boxes. The growth is particularly notable in the European Union (EU), with a 19.99% year-on-year (YoY) increase, Russia at 4.86%, and the United States (US) at 5.36%. However, there are YoY reductions in other regions, such as the Middle East (8.43%), Southern Cone (0.13%), Eastern Europe (43.32%), the European Free Trade Association (10.82%), and Canada (83.03%). Turkey stood as a repressed market with a 22.04% YoY export drop.

In Spain, the eruption of the La Palma volcano had a significant impact on the banana export market, causing a decline in consumer households due to product shortages and high prices. As a result, it is expected to be challenging to return to pre-eruption consumption levels in 2023. This situation is compounded by a sharp decrease in fruit consumption in Spain, which decreased by 12.2% YoY. In 2022, bananas from third countries reached similar sales levels in Spain as domestic bananas for the first time but were unable to maintain a rising market, leading to a 9% decrease in total sales of plantains and bananas, the largest drop in a decade. Despite these challenges, the banana industry has made efforts to recover market growth, achieving a 13% increase in the plantain and banana market by the end of Aug-23, thanks to increased sales of Canary Island bananas.

Furthermore, in 2023, the Canary Islands banana market faces significant challenges due to record-high production levels. The Association of Banana Producer Organizations of the Canary Islands (Asprocan) has requested the withdrawal of 22 million kilograms of bananas from the market, the highest annual figure on record. The oversupply is due to increased production resulting from above-average temperatures, and it has led to low prices and competition from cheaper bananas. Despite attempts to limit supply and recover market growth, the situation remains difficult for banana producers. Crisis management measures, such as free donations to food banks, have been implemented to avoid unsustainable debts for producers. The industry's unity and efforts are crucial in addressing the complex conditions.

Lastly, banana production in the Manavgat district of Antalya, Turkey, is shifting toward organic farming. The region has seen substantial growth in greenhouse banana cultivation since the 2010s, and as of W43, three of the five organic banana enterprises in Turkey are located in Manavgat. With the global demand for bananas and a predicted 1 million tons of bananas to be produced in Turkey by 2023, the shift towards organic banana farming is on the rise. Local farmers are embracing organic methods, and these efforts are supported by the government.

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