A Look at Central American Banana Exports

A Look at Central American Banana Exports

Banana exports from Ecuador were boosted 9 percent during the first four months of 2020 despite the challenges stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Between January and April 2020 the country managed to increase volumes to 139 million boxes, according to the country’s banana industry body AEBE. That came despite some logistical issues in the country and in the destination markets. The uptick in shipments was driven by strong year to year growth in January and February, with more moderate growth in March and April.

The AEBE reports spot market prices were unsustainably low, currently sitting at almost half of the minimum amount that exporters must pay growers by law. As of June 15, a box of bananas was fetching around $3.50 on the spot market, while the pricing floor for payments to growers is currently $6.30.

In the first four months of the year Ecuador sent 29 percent of its bananas to the European Union, 21 percent to Russia, 15 percent to the Middle East, 9 percent to the U.S., and 7 percent to the Far East. Other major Latin America banana exporters – Costa Rica, Colombia, and Guatemala – also managed to notch increases during the start of 2020.

In the first quarter, Costa Rica saw a 9 percent rise to 33 million boxes and Colombia boosted volumes by 19 percent to 29.6 million boxes. The figures mark a recovery in production levels in both countries after they were hit by adverse weather last year.

Guatemala’s banana exports rose by 10 percent in the quarter to 30.8 million boxes. Costa Rica, Colombia, and Guatemala sent 53 percent, 75 percent and 8 percent of their shipments to the U.S market respectively, with the former two also sending 15 percent and 13 percent to the European Union.