The smiling face of Violeta Ramírez appears on an oval background of red color combined with yellow. The portrait is part of the main brand under which Compañía Exportadora del Sur markets bananas abroad.

Gino Pinargote, owner of that Guayaquil-based company, decided to incorporate his mother’s image to create the Doña Violeta brand . The exporter says the idea came to pay tribute to his deceased mother.

Since 2016 and under that brand they have exported bananas to the markets of Russia, the Middle East, China and some European countries. Annually, Exportadora del Sur sells some 2.5 million boxes of bananas, mainly to Russia.

The company tries to include the stickers on each banana so that the customer recognizes the brand. The labels even have a QR code to lead the consumer to the website.

Ecuador annually exports its bananas under more than 50 brands , including its own labels that belong to local exporters, multinationals and others that are owned by customers who place the orders.

In addition to brands that bear names in memory of deceased people, owners or founders of banana plants, there are others that include animals, landscapes, caricatured bananas or simply the traditional brand of a business or transnational.

Two multinationals and an Ecuadorian company command the group of the three main brands with which bananas are exported.

Of the 102.11 million boxes of bananas (18.14 kg) shipped abroad from January to March 2021, the main exported brand was Dole with a 12.58% share; in second place was Chiquita with 6.61% and in third place, with 4.07%, is the Favorite brand (from the Reybanpac group), according to the Banana Marketing and Export Association (Acorbanec).

In the first quarter, 51 brands captured a 75.18% share due to exported boxes and another group of brands – which individually manages a smaller share of 0.14% – had 24.82%.

Richard Salazar, executive director of Acorbanec, explains that there are companies that have several brands and the use of these depends a lot on the commercial strategy and the orders they have in the markets. Thus, there are some that may have a permanent presence and others that leave for specific requests.

Transnational brands handle a significant volume because they not only export through their own companies, but also authorize other exporters to send fruit with their stamps.

Other producers also target certain markets and ship the bananas under their customers’ brands. Paúl González, president of the Agricultural Center of Machala and representative of Asoprograoro, says that they work with the Reina Flor and Hormiguita brands that go to the Russian market.

“The buyer gives us the brands, these two brands arrive in Russia,” says González, adding that they began working with Reina Flor about three years ago and with Hormiguita this year.

The leader maintains that they have taken over the Russian market due to the quality of the fruit, as it has a longer shelf life on the perches. Weekly they send about 40,000 boxes.

Johnny Valencia, who provides solutions for the banana sector, points out that currently there are companies that are working much more with technology to be able to reach their customers.

In the market there is already a greater action with QR codes, web pages and presence in social networks, says Valencia.

Top 10 of the most exported brands 2021 (January-March boxes) Participation
Dole 12′845.412 12.58%
Little girl 6′753.333 6.61%
Favorite 4′157,851 4.07%
From the Mount 3′971,745 3.89%
Frutadeli 3′142.193 3.08%
Fyffes 2′876,647 2.82%
Pretty 2′753.356 2.70%
Extraban 2′341,529 2.29%
Excelban 2′230.242 2.18%
Primadonna 2′117.305 2.07%
Source: Acorbanec, Datacomex and Banastat

Favorite bet on technological innovation to target consumers

Favorite is the Ecuadorian banana brand that is better positioned. It ranks third in the first quarter behind the multinationals Dole and Chiquita, according to the Banana Marketing and Export Association (Acorbanec).

This is the flagship product of the Reybanpac company , of the Wong group. Under this brand it exports bananas to seven countries: Japan, England, Germany, Lithuania, Argentina, Chile and the United States.

In addition to this seal, the banana group also manages other brands with which it reaches around 15 nations.

The group has made technological innovations to better control its production and make its brand known.

At the level of digital tools, Reybanpac handles traceability labels that are placed on pallets. Through these, it has the ability to identify the farm of origin and the day the fruit was harvested. This allows you to have better quality control.

On the other hand, the company has European clients (supermarkets) for which they have incorporated QR codes on the product labels. Thus, its buyers can access information on the farm where the product they purchase is grown from their mobile devices.

“At present, especially among young people, the interest in consumers to have more information about the products has been gaining strength and this influences their purchase decision”, says Mónica Molineros, International Business Manager.

Reybanpac is currently developing a communication strategy to position both its Favorite brand and its image as a producer and exporter of Ecuadorian premium bananas in international markets.

Within this strategy, the main component is digital marketing . “We constantly spread news about the actions of the company and the projects we develop. We also highlight the benefits that stand out to the Ecuadorian banana and in particular our product ”, says Molineros. (I)