BanaBay, the rapidly emerging tropical fruit distributor-marketer with headquarters in the UK and plantations in Ecuador, is branching into new products.
From this month, the company will be able to offer New Zealand apples and Mexican limes for the first time.
Known primarily for Ecuadorian bananas, BanaBay said in a media statement that it was responding to customers’ requests for apples, which, while outside the tropical fruit basket, are “a very popular choice”.
The company has chosen to source its apples from New Zealand, already a key market for BanayBay’s bananas, citing the country’s ideal growing climate and reputation for developing exciting new varieties. BanaBay’s varietal range will include Royal Gala, New Zealand Queen, Pacific Rose and Braeburn.
“While our core business remains our Ecuadorian-grown bananas, we have always prided ourselves on our flexible and responsive customer service so when a product is requested, we can act fast to source the best fruit and add it to the suite of products,” said managing director Mark O’Sullivan.
BanaBay is also venturing into the citrus arena with the addition of Persian seedless limes. Cultivated on GlobalGAP-certified farmland in Mexico, the fruit, which is in high demand for pan-Asian cuisine and cocktails, will become an integral part of its range, which also includes also includes bananas, pineapples and baby bananas.
China to drive banana growth
Back on the banana business, BanaBay is expecting to export 150 containers per week in 2015, as its customer bases expand in China, Australasia, the Middle East and Poland in particular.
The Chinese market is a particular focus for the company, and could grow to account for a third of its business this year.
Since establishing an operating base in Shanghai in 2014, BanaBay has secured two “significant” new customers, O’Sullivan told Asiafruit, and it now has five customers covering the Shanghai, Beijing, Qingdao and Tianjin regions. The company expects Chinese-bound volumes to grow to 50 containers per week by 2016.
To handle the increased business, Yuchi Li, who was responsible for opening up the market in the region for BanaBay, has been promoted to senior business development manager for Asia.
“Our customers in China are becoming an important part of our overall business and have developed a real taste for Ecuadorian bananas,” said O’Sullivan. “As well as plans to keep on growing with our current contracts we are hoping to introduce new lines such as recent portfolio additions baby bananas and apples.”
BanaBay is also keen to break into other Asian markets, notably Japan and Korea, where Li said negotiations are underway with customers. “After market analysis, it makes sense for us to focus our efforts on customers in China, Korea and Japan as other countries in Asia are fully able to grow their own bananas,” said Li.
A full interview with BanaBay's managing director Mark O'Sullivan appears in the February edition of Asiafruit Magazine. To order your copy, email [email protected]