Posts Tagged “banana imports”

Banana Imports Increase Slightly higher

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Bananas remain America’s favorite fruit, but growth is slow at the top.

U.S. banana imports from August 2019 to July were 5.12 million metric tons, up less than 1% compared with the previous year. 

By value, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports banana imports totaled $2.46 billion in 2019-20, up 1.2% compared with 2018-19.

The USDA per capita availability consumption of bananas rated 28.3 pounds in 2018, down slightly from  28.7 pounds in 2017 and up slightly from 28 pounds in 2015, up 10.5% from 25.6 pounds in 2010 and virtually unchanged from 28.4 pounds in 2000.

Modest growth

According to the USDA, the annual percent of volume growth of banana/plantains imports:

  • 2011: 7.1%
  • 2012: 2.2%
  • 2013: 6.1%
  • 2014: 2.9%
  • 2015: 2.9%
  • 2016: 1.1%
  • 2017: 2.6%
  • 2018: 2.6%
  • 2019: -2.9%
  • 2020: NC. 

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Banana Imports are Looking Strong Heading into Spring

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Banana imports from South America are expected to remain steady as South America has had good weather, helping to offset cooler temperatures that have slowed Mexican banana shipments.

Oke USA Fruit Co. of West Bridgewater, MA reports good supplies with steady volume.

Earl’s Organic Produce of San Francisco notes cool temperature has affected production along the central west coast of Mexico, slowing growth and lowering yields. However, warmer weather is not improving the situation.

Organics Unlimited Inc. of San Diego points out Mexican banana production typically slows during the winter. Yet the cooler than normal temperatures in Colima resulted in harvest delays. Guatemala, Honduras and Costa Rica have experienced similar problems.

Dole Food Co. of Westlake Village, CA sees good volume for all of 2020, point out it has an exceptional worldwide shipping and logistics system allowing it to provide bananas the year around. While one region may have adverse weather, another is usually in good shape since it harvest bananas throughout Latin America, including Costa Rica, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras and Ecuador.

As examples, Dole point to its organic banana production in Ecuador and Peru where volume has been steady.

Ports of the Delaware river (Wilmington, Philadelphia and Chester) are called instead of New York where the banana trade used to take place. In the 1980s, Chiquita and Dole relocated their facilities to Wilmington, which created a significant cluster of refrigerated import activities with specialized terminals, on-dock and inland refrigerated warehouses, and labor trained to handle these types of goods.

A similar pattern applies on the West Coast where Hueneme and San Diego are used instead of Los Angeles and on the Gulf Coast with Gulfport, the dominant facility of the range that replaced New Orleans when United Fruits relocated its facilities.

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Import Update: Fewer Bananas are Imported, While Tomatoes Increase

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A moderate decline in volume has been reported for U.S. banana imports in 2018, while tomato imports are increasing, according the USDA.

U.S. imports of bananas totaled 4.2 million metric tons in 2018, off 4 percent from 2017. By value, imports of bananas totaled $1.91 billion in 2018, up 2 percent from 2017.

Guatemala was the leading supplier of bananas to the U.S. in 2018, accounting for 1.88 billion metric tons, down 5 percent from 2017. By value, imports of Guatemala bananas totaled $851.4 million, up 2 percent from 2017. Guatemala accounted for 45 percent of volume and value of total banana imports.

Other leading suppliers of bananas in 2018 to the U.S., by value and compared with last year, are:

  • Costa Rica: $399.9 million, down 10 percent;
  • Honduras: $218.5 million, down 1 percent;
  • Ecuador: $189.2 million, up 16 percent;
  • Mexico: $136.2 million, up 19 percent; and
  • Colombia: $104.8 million, up 15 percent.

Tomato Imports

In 2018 total U.S. tomato imports increased 9 percent in value and 4 percent in volume.

USDA trade statistics show that total U.S. tomato imports were $2.38 billion in 2018, up 9 percent from $2.17 billion in 2017.

Volume of tomato imports rose 4 percent in 2018, climbing from 1.79 million metric tons in 2017 to 1.86 million metric tons in 2018.

Mexico is the top supplier of imported tomatoes, accounting for 87 percent of the value of total U.S. tomato imports and 91 percent of imported tomato volume. By value, U.S. imports of Mexican tomatoes, at $2.06 billion, were up 12 percent from 2017.

The volume of U.S. imports of Mexican tomatoes totaled 1.69 million metric tons in 2018, up 5 percent from 1.61 million metric tons in 2017.

By comparison, U.S. imports of Canadian tomatoes declined 7 percent in value and 9 percent in volume in 2018. Canada is the number two supplier of imported tomatoes, accounting for 9 percent of imported tomato value and 8 percent of tomato volume.

The Dominican Republic and Guatemala are number three and four ranked tomato suppliers, but both represent less than 1 percent of value.

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Banana Boat Arrival Delays Have been Occurring Due to Several Factors

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A12Timely 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.

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Nogales Crossing Delays; Bananas are now Arriving at Wilmington

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DSCN9002Delays in Mexican produce crossing the border, which also means in delays for produce haulers picking up product at distribution centers, is occurring at Nogales, AZ…..Also, bananas are now arriving for the first time by boat at Wilmington, NC.

Nogales is a leading port of entry for Mexican fresh vegetables, amounting to $2 billion in 2016, is having delays due in large part from a shortage of officers.

A shortage of as many ad 300 officers is reported a US. Customs and Broker Protection (CBP). The results are long lines delaying produce border crossings.

Citing security reasons the CBP doesn’t reveal exactly how many officers are currently working at the gateway.  However, they acknowledge the port is rotating staff by bring in officers from other ports around the U.S. to Nogales for 90-day work assignments.  As many as 175 officers have relocated to the Nogales for temporary duty, reports the National Treasury Employees Union.

In 2016 alone, $8.3 billion worth of U.S. exports when from Arizona into Mexico.  Also in 2016, $7.4 billion in Mexican goods were imported into Arizona.

Not only is commerce adversely affected by the delays at Nogales, but travelers looking to cross the border are looking at lengthy delays.

Anthony Reardon, president of the Nogales, National Treasury Employees notes CBP’s protracted and complicated hiring process, strict polygraph testing, and extensive training times are all at play when he recently testified before congress.  This has resulted in 3700 vacant positions for the agency, simply due to the 12 to 18 month hiring process.

Banana Imports at Wilmington

Bananas imported from Central America recently began arriving at the Port of Wilmington (NC).    The inital arrival marks the beginning of a 12-month commitment to bring weekly deliveries of bananas for distribution by truck to distribution centers across North Carolina and South Carolina.

Wilmington is the first South Atlantic port to implement both phases of the Department of Agriculture’s Southeast In-Transit Cold Treatment Pilot program, which allows for more direct imports of produce.

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How Produce Trucking was Affected in 2017 by Weather

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Tk12017 had its share of bad weather conditions of different varieties that presented challenges for produce truckers.

Heavy snows early in the year resulted in collapsing buildings in the Northwest holding onions, among other items.  During the spring a Southeastern killer freeze wiped out the majority of peaches and blueberries.

On the Gulf Coast and in Florida two hurricanes were devastating.

On the positive side, winter rains eased the California drought significantly.

Citrus hauling was adversely affected with Irma causing at least $760 million in losses to citrus, with many growers losing at least half of their crop.   Vegetable and strawberry shipments also were adversely affected by Irma, but not nearly as much.

Banana imports by boat were diverted from Galveston to Florida ports after the storm.  The port of Houston remained closed for months.  The 50 inches of rain dumped on the Gulf Coast area was the most on record in the U.S. for a single storm.

In Georgia, a March freeze knocked out 70 percent of the peach shipments and an even higher percentage of blueberries.

Wave after wave of late-winter rains flooded fields, caused crop delays and played havoc with planting schedules and ultimately produce shipping schedules in California.  However, Salinas Valley produce grower and shippers were so desperate for rain they weren’t complaining.

The rains brought a much-needed cleansing of the soil in the Salinas Valley by helping to leach unwanted salts below the farmed portions of the soil.  Still California needs another two or three years like 2017 to end its drought.

In January 2017 in the Treasure Valley region of Western Idaho and Eastern Oregon, two major snow storms in less than two weeks resulted in collapsing of a number of onion storage sheds and other structures.  At least eight onion companies lost one or more buildings, while at least five had three or more cave in.


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