Banana exports grew 5.24% in the first nine months of 2018. And if the trend continues, this year could once again lead the sales of non-oil products from Ecuador. Up to week 40 (end of September), exports of the 43 pound case totaled 265.9 million, while in the same period of 2017 it was 252 million.
The Institute for Promotion of Exports and Investments (Pro Ecuador) estimates that this year sales will close with 338 million boxes, 3.6% more than last year. Bananas rank as the second non-oil export product, with USD 2 065.3 million, until August of this year. First there is the shrimp with 2 170.6 million.
Fruit has regained sales to the European Union (EU), which is consolidating as one of its main markets together with Russia. But it continues to “weaken” in the United States, said Eduardo Ledesma, director of the Ecuadorian Banana Exporters Association (AEBE). Meanwhile, exports have not been able to grow to EFTA (Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein), despite the trade agreement signed last June. “It has not been possible to specify because the approval of the Constitutional Court and then of the National Assembly is lacking,” he said. Expect internal procedures to be approved soon.
Juan Carlos Cassinelli, former Minister of Foreign Trade, highlighted “the highly positive result” of the signing of the multiparty agreement with the EU two years ago, which he led in the previous government. In the first year of validity, bananas grew 11% in sales. And between January and August of 2018, exports to the EU totaled USD 676 million, an increase of 5%.
Cassinnelli analyzed yesterday the European market before an audience of more than 300 people linked to the sector. It was one of the main talks at the start of the XV International Banana Forum and IV Biotechnology and Biodiversity Congress (CIBB). The appointment will take place in Guayaquil until tomorrow and brings together 65 exhibitors from the entire chain and 75 companies.
The II Business Roundtable is also held between 43 exporters and 13 buyers. “Ecuador has a lot to offer the EU. With the signing, the purchase options became more dynamic, we have to plant more hectares because we have more potential to compete, “said the former minister.
Ecuador is currently facing a kind of ‘price war’ with the large European supermarket chains, which are the largest buyers. The German chain Aldi is pressing the country to lower a dollar in the box. But that intention has been rejected by the Ecuadorian exporters. Ledesma said that other producers: Colombia, Costa Rica and Panama, are joining the initiative to face “these claims.” That is why, on Monday night, during the opening ceremony, he asked for support from the State through the four ministers present, to form an internal and external front.
In recent days, 32 unions and companies sent a letter of rejection to the EU. Pablo Campana, Foreign Trade, said that “the duty as Government is to protect and support Ecuadorian bananas,” as has happened in the past 17 months, of the “hand of the private sector.”
According to Ledesma, “moving the price would be crazy”. The supermarkets want to take “the big part of the cake, but every time they demand more certifications”. But the sector also assumes an increase in costs in supplies, shipping and official price of the box (payment to the producer), which in 2018 is USD 6.20.
But this week the Minister of Agriculture, Xavier Lazo, will announce the price that will govern in 2019. Marianela Ubilla, manager of the exporter Agzulasa, believes that they are the other producers that intend to discredit the Ecuadorian fruit. He stressed that the sector has taken a great turn towards environmental respect, sustainable and complies with labor regulations.
We are also working on the development of the ‘Banano Ecuador’ brand. Raúl Saca, Global Director of Banana and Pineapple at the Maersk shipping company in Miami, said that Ecuador is the country that has grown the most in sales of fruit in the last six years.
In 2017, Ecuador was the main world supplier with 25.3%, followed by the Philippines, Belgium and Costa Rica. AEBE highlights the private alliance and the Polytechnic School of the Litoral (Espol), which is your partner in the appointment.
The Center for Biotechnology Research of Ecuador (Cibe) has 33 laboratories. There, for example, has developed meristems (embryonic tissue) of banana more resistant to fusarium fungus. (I)