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Ecuador may become China's main banana supplier

Staff writer |
The president of the Association of Banana Exporters of Ecuador, Jorge Alex Serrano, said that Ecuadorian companies seek to become China's leading banana suppliers, surpassing the Philippines, which is traditionally the largest exporter to this market.

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"We pursue to expand, establish relationships, do business and grow," he said to Andes Serrano, member of the business delegation that will accompany President Rafael Correa in his first state visit to China, which will take place between 5 and 9 January.

As explained also by the producer and exporter, given the crisis Russia is facing, China appears to be a good option for redirecting the fruit shipments and preventing prices drops. Furthermore, it will make it possible to cover this market's growing demand.

Last November, this product's marketing in China amounted to 250,000 13 kilo boxes per week; a 500% increase.

Serrano said that Ecuador is able to cover China's current levels of demand, and even more, as so far the volume is not that great but is increasing gradually.

The opening of this niche, he explained, is due to the Philippines facing the impact of natural disasters, such as typhoons and the "Panama disease" virus, which have destroyed the country's plantations and limited its sales, thereby resulting in less fruit available and higher prices.

At present, 30% of Ecuador's banana production is exported to the Chinese market and 25% to the United States.
Another reason for the increase in banana purchases is the fact that Chinese consumption is on the rise; "China's middle class is growing and the country's consumption capacity increases as a result. Furthermore, northern China demands fruit with similar characteristics to that produced by Ecuador," he pointed out.

The characteristics of Ecuadorian and Philippine bananas are similar, but the latter are a little smaller, while ripening conditions also vary. The fruit imported from Ecuador can remain green for longer in cold rooms before being ripened with ethylene gas.

At present, 30% of Ecuador's banana production is exported to the Chinese market and 25% to the United States. Other buyers are northern and southern Europe, northern Africa and Turkey, from where it is re-exported to Iraq, Iran and Georgia.

In Ecuador there are nearly 200 banana exporting companies, some of which sell between 5 and 10 containers per week. Medium-sized producers might do 4 to 5 containers per week, while others reach 300 to 400.

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