Timely arrivals for banana imports from Central and South America has been an ongoing issue this year due to factors ranging from disruptions by labor to weather factors.
Particularly over the last several weeks there have been late arrivals as a result of steamship line delays and issues. Major delays by shipping companies continue along the most commonly used routes from South America to the U.S. This has resulted in inconsistencies with steamship line arrival times to the U.S. and disruptions in banana supply across the board.
Labor strikes in Costa Rica have furthered the inconsistencies on steamship arrivals as any routes that include Costa Rica have experienced major slowdowns at Cost Rica ports. Contributing to the problems was a hurricane that hit the southeastern coast of Costa Rica in September.
Organics Unlimited of San Diego, CA has reported price pressure on organic bananas. The company contends there is a lack of understanding on what is figured into the higher prices needed for organic product versus conventional.
Chiquita Brands has referenced the rising costs of items ranging from paper, bunker fuel and inland transportation. There also are stricter regulations, fuel prices going up and lack of adequate labor, all which are having a negative impact on costs.
Bananas imported by North American companies are sourced mainly from Central America, where challenges the industry faced this year were mostly weather related.
The year started with colder weather than usual, and in Costa Rica and Panama above average rainfall, creating port service problems. The unstable political situation in the region continues to pose a challenge for a consistent and problem-free supply.
Del Monte Fresh Produce of Coral Gables, FL reports in recent months growing conditions have been good and banana availability should remain steady through the rest of the year, despite some transportation issues last September.
Oke USA of West Bridgewater, MA is the importing arm of Equal Exchange. The company reports weather has been ideal in Peru and Ecuador this year. However, 2017 was a difficult year for quality due to El Niño and excessive rains that led to wide-scale flooding, especially in Peru. In 2018, there has been less rain in general, rains coming at the right time and more optimal growing conditions in general. This has resulted Equal Exchange experiencing a decrease of over 50 percent in quality issues.