By Tom Burfield for ThePacker.com
Banana sales are expected to pick up as is usually the case as fall kicks off and summer fruit supplies wind down.
Grower-shippers generally expect stable markets and higher prices for the next several months.
“The growing conditions for our banana programs have been fair in most countries, with little negative impacts from pest, disease or weather problems,” said Dennis Christou, vice president of marketing for Del Monte Fresh Produce NA Inc., Coral Gables, Fla.
However, he added that El Niño conditions are affecting some areas.
“We currently expect our banana volume to be similar to last year’s as we continue to source our bananas from Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala and Colombia,” he said.
Del Monte also sources organic bananas from Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
“Industrywide, we expect supplies to be adequate for the rest of the year, Christou said. “We also expect prices and returns to growers to increase compared to last year.”
Supply and demand are in balance, which leads to a stable market, said Marion Tabard, marketing director for Coral Gables-based Turbana Corp.
Prices should range from the same as last year to up slightly, she said.
“At the present time, growing conditions are good, and we expect our volume to remain similar to last year,” she said in mid-September.
The company will continue to source bananas from Colombia, Ecuador and, occasionally, Costa Rica.
Westlake Village, Calif.-based Dole Food Co. sources bananas from Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia and Peru, said Bil Goldfield, director of communications.
“Overall, the industry enjoys good productivity levels,” he said, “and volumes should remain consistent with some growth over last year in both conventional and organic.”
Guatemala-based One Banana Co. grows bananas “in a socially and environmentally responsible manner” in Guatemala, Peru and Ecuador, said Fernando García-Salas, vice president, direct sales.
“Over the next several months One Banana’s volume will be stable and similar to last year’s,” he said.
The company will be working closely with supermarkets to help grow their business in both conventional and organic banana programs, he said.
One Banana Co. farms are Rainforest Alliance and GlobalG.A.P. certified, and the firm’s organic banana farm in Peru is Control Union certified, Garcia-Salas said.
Turning to organic bananas, Nicole Vitello, president of Oke USA Fruit Co., West Bridgewater, Mass., hopes that demand will pick up this fall after a lackluster summer characterized by rainy conditions in Peru and a long, warm growing season in Ecuador, which brought on heavier volume earlier than usual.
Demand typically drops in summer as consumers pick up fewer bananas and more peaches, strawberries and other summer fruit, she said.
This year, there were also more organic bananas than usual.
She was hopeful that the back-to-school period and arrival of fall would translate into additional sales.
The fourth quarter and first quarters typically are the busiest for Oke USA, which markets Equal Exchange Fair Trade bananas.
Vitello said she was not aware of any adverse conditions as the fall season kicked off.
“There were no hurricanes or environmental disasters that could take out trees, and no drought conditions that would cause alarm,” she said.
Tabard expected supplies of organic bananas to tighten somewhat because of damage caused by tropical storm Erika in the Dominican Republic.
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