Banana exports from the Dominican Republic dropped 75%
While import demand remained strong in all regions, the adverse effects of the El Niño weather phenomenon as well as the spread of the Fusarium Wilt disease negatively affected yields and resulted in production shortages in several of the major producing and exporting regions.
Most of the decline was explained by a 50 percent drop in export quantities from the Philippines, where a long period of drought heavily affected the quality and volume of production.
The Philippines, previously the second largest global exporter behind Ecuador, had reached a peak export volume of 3.68 million tonnes in 2014, which declined to 1.85 million tonnes in 2015.
Following lower shipments from the Philippines, the major export destinations, Japan and China, increased their orders from Ecuador to meet domestic demand.
Exports from Latin America and the Caribbean showed a 1 percent decrease due to lower shipments from Costa Rica and Colombia, two of the major exporters in the region.
Exports from Peru increased by 20 percent and reached 191 000 tonnes in 2015. In the Caribbean, exports continued to be dominated by the Dominican Republic, which accounted for 93 percent of the total volume exported by the region in 2015.
However, banana exports from the Dominican Republic dropped by 75 percent to 138 000 tonnes after a tropical storm destroyed some 40 percent of the crop in August 2015.
Asian exports declined by 46 percent in 2015 due to the production drop experienced in the Philippines, the largest exporter in the region, which accounts for some 90 percent of the total export volume from Asia.
Adverse weather conditions and the Fusarium Wilt disease severely affected output in the Philippines.
India, by far the largest producer of bananas globally, increased its export volume by 47 percent due to further expansion in the harvested area for traded varieties.
While banana production in India primarily targets the domestic market, a growing share of production is exported to the Gulf countries, Malaysia and Nepal.
Supply shortages in the Philippines, the main competing exporter, meant that shipments from India could benefit from high demand in the Gulf countries and Southeast Asia.
Another supporting factor was the low price of Indian bananas, which reportedly sold at a 50 percent discount to bananas from Ecuador and the Philippines at the Dubai auction.
Gross imports by the European Union (EU) grew by 3 percent, driven by strong consumer demand in the major importing countries. Also Eastern EU economies saw robust import growth.
Gross import volumes by Slovakia, Poland and Estonia, for example, grew by 13, 10 and 19 percent respectively, supported by rising incomes, declining import prices and changing consumer preferences.
In Poland, for example, the average import price in Euros declined by 19 percent between 2005 and 2015.
In Croatia, the accession to the European Union in July 2013 gave an added impetus to import demand.
Overall, imports into the European Union reached an unprecedented 5.2 million tonnes, with 70 percent of shipments originating from three large producers (Ecuador, Colombia and Costa Rica). ■