NOVA MEDIA PUBLISHING INC.

Ecuador: Banana Exports During The Coronavirus

29.5.2020

The interannual exports grew by 9.51% compared to 2019. The sector increased its production due to the investments made; several countries reduced their purchases. Thanks to the increase in investments made by the banana sector during 2019, production and exports increased in 2020. The sector planted around 4,000 new hectares and replanted 4,000 more that began to produce in 2020. The result was reflected in the first quarter. When comparing with 2019 there was an increase of 9.51%, that is, 104.3 million boxes were exported versus 95.2 million boxes exported last year.

37.6 million boxes were exported in January, 18% more than what was exported last year. Then due to the covid-19 effects, exports were reduced: 33.6 million boxes were exported in February and 33 million in March. Richard Salazar, executive director of the Association of Banana Exporters (Acorbanec), explains that the sector already had a certain ceiling that was what was exported in January (37 million boxes).

"That fruit was already contracted, but because of the covid-19, several of the markets reduced their purchases." Russia, Poland, England, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Greece, Belgium, Spain, Eastern Europe (Ukraine and Georgia), the Middle East, and other countries stopped buying because they were not selling what they normally sold.

There was a very sharp drop in the Mersin transit market in Turkey to neighboring countries such as Iran, Iraq, etc., due to the closure of the borders because of the coronavirus that affected Ecuadorian exports with a lot of fruit that remained in the Andean country. The logistics distribution of the fruit and the closing of borders due to mobility restrictions adopted by governments in several countries in Europe also affected the commercialization of bananas.

From January to February the affectation was around $ 60 million, Salazar said, even though it did grow year on year.

José Antonio Hidalgo, Executive Director of the Association of Banana Exporters of Ecuador (AEBE), indicated that currently banana exports are carried out normally. He emphasizes that, during these sixty days of forced confinement, the union of the sector with its value chain and the adoption of security routes by the Government "have been important so that the flow of shipments does not stop." He acknowledges the work carried out in the public and private ports that have maintained their work rhythm, as well as the cardboard factories that have provided the boxes to the sector. "The Government for its part supported in the procedures of the documents needed to export," he said. He also clarified that producers and exporters have made the necessary investments for the protection of their workers. "Not a single day has it stopped cutting, packing and exporting bananas," he assured.

In the general context, the sector has had positive results in the year-on-year comparison, but exports were affected by the effect of the covid-19. The price of fruit dropped as supply outstripped demand. Before covid-19, the sector had been implementing biosecurity measures for fusarium race 4. The banana producers have invested $ 500 per hectare in biosecurity measures. During the pandemic, the sector recovered markets in the European Union (EU): an additional 19% was exported, unlike 2019, which lost 15%. Markets like the Middle East increased their purchases by 46.86%, Eastern Europe by 37.60%, EFTA by 37.25%, the United Kingdom by 21.78%, the United States by 20.85%, the European Union (27) in 17%, Russia in 16.09%, among others.

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