Unibán Expects to Export 41 Million boxes of Bananas in 2018


Unibán S.A is the main Colombian banana trader. It has 40% of the export market and generates 3,600 jobs. In 2017, the company exported 40.4 million boxes of bananas, plantains and exotic fruits, which represented US $ 348 million, 2.8% more than the previous year. The goal for 2018 is to export 45 million boxes of all its products, especially bananas, which are expected to sell 41 million boxes abroad, five million more than last year (36 million).

The company started in 1966, when a group of producers started up their own banana company to sell their own fruits directly to the market. Since then, it has had a sustained growth that has benefited the producers of Uraba Antioquia. In total, there are 18,000 hectares sown with bananas that supply the exporting company, 3,200 hectares belonging to the company and the rest belonging to affiliated producers.

The European market represents 75% of sales and the rest is distributed between the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. In the latter, Andrés Moreno, financial vice president of Unibán S.A, indicated that they want to boost exports to countries such as Bosnia, Croatia, Montenegro and Turkey.

A new market that was recently opened to Colombian bananas is Argentina. This happened after the National Service of Health and Agri-Food Quality of that country announced the admissibility of the country’s produce.

For Moreno, this is a very important opportunity, since the company has carried out some export pilots to Argentina, but the complete admissibility of the product would be an opportunity for growth. He indicated that in order for it to be more effective, it has to develop more shipping frequency with the southern country.

"It's a great opportunity. It would really be the first incursion in Latin America," Moreno said.

According to information provided by the Banana Association of Colombia (Augura), 98 million boxes of bananas were exported during the past year, representing US $ 850 million.

The most represented international markets are the European Union with 76% participation and the United States with 16%. Likewise, in Colombia there are 49,307 hectares of export-type bananas, up 2,035 from 2016. In Urabá this amounts to 34,789 hectares and in Magdalena, Guajira and Cesar 14,518 hectares.

The main objective of the association is to increase productivity and reach 2,200 boxes per hectare per year, which would mean exporting 108 million boxes in 2018.

After the National Service of Health and Agri-Food Quality of Argentina announced the admissibility of the pineapple, it announced that the banana also meets all the requirements to enter this market. This will be a very important step not only because of the foreign exchange generated by these exports but also because of the employment generated by these agricultural activities in the country," said the Colombian ambassador in that country, Luis Londoño.

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