Europlátano Invests to Double Its Ripening Capacity


Comprised of more than 670 farmers distributed among the islands of Tenerife, Hierro, and La Palma in the Canary Islands, S.A.T. Europlátano began construction on its new ripening warehouse in 2023, which it expects to have ready by the end of summer. Its managers have shared with Alimarket the investment this project has entailed and the benefits it will bring to their activity, among other matters. Firstly, attending the investment project, the group, specialised in the handling, packaging, and marketing Canary Island bananas, estimates a disbursement of about 12 M€ accompanying the construction of its second ripening warehouse. According to internal sources, it is a proprietary structure of 5,000 m² located in Bilbao, whose works began in 2023, with a forecast of start-up by the end of summer.

According to the same sources, the new warehouse has 21 ripening chambers and two packaging lines. These are added to the 23 chambers that S.A.T. has managed in Alicante since the end of 2020, which can ripen 25,000 t. This will also be the new facility's capacity, so Europlátano will double its capacity and be able to cover the entire Spanish territory directly.

This last point explains why the company Musa Norte has recently been incorporated into the group. It will be responsible for ripening the fruit for the northwest area of the Peninsula. Mercamusa, which has carried out this activity for the rest of the territory, has also been integrated into the group.

But beyond the peninsular territory, Europlátano continues to work on finding profitable destinations: "consumers who appreciate the quality and the work of the farmer and who are willing to pay for it," the same sources explain. Since 2016, the group has sent weekly to Switzerland, its first and primary foreign client, to which France and Poland are added.

But what weight do exports have for Europlátano today? "So far this year, foreign sales represent approximately 3% of the volume traded," they respond. "Historically, our exports are around 1%-1.5%; the sector average is 0.87%," they add.

This horticultural group has trialled with a new French client since last March and is constantly searching for new market niches. They point out that they hope to consolidate with this client by the end of summer. The same sources comment that these projects require a significant investment but can mean "a stable and fair price for the producer."

As for the logistics to reach all these markets, "they are custom-made confections, from the production plants in the Canary Islands and with a second supervision at our facilities on the Peninsula, before their export to the destination country. There are clients to whom we serve in green and others to whom we serve once ripened".

If we now look at the volumes marketed by Europlátano, the 2023 campaign reached 75,483 t, a figure it hopes to maintain at similar levels this year. In 2022, due to the eruption of the La Palma volcano in September 2021, the volume dropped to 54,402 t. A year earlier, in 2021, it was 68,370 t.

In economic terms, the turnover figure, still provisional, for the end of 2023 is 71.94 M€, compared to 83.97 M€ in 2022. For the current fiscal year, S.A.T. Europlátano expects to exceed 90 M€.

In this context, the group, which employs an average of 500 workers, continues to adopt sustainable innovation measures. Currently, they are working on a new paper strapping material for 'Gabaceras'. "We were the first to use this type of packaging reducing 90% of the plastic in the packaging and now we will take a step further, through paper strapping. This improvement joins those already made with other packaging such as the biodegradable flowpack or the compostable sticker," they concluded.