Production issues and mounting competition from other suppliers hit exports

A collapse in purchases from the Chilean market has led to a big fall in exports of Peruvian bananas so far this year.

Peruvian bananas

Peruvian bananas

Fresh Fruit Peru reported on 21 April that shipments stood at 51,418 tonnes so far this year, a drop of 15 per cent on the same period last year. Exports to Chile, one of Peru’s top three markets, were down by more than 90 per cent, dropping from 8,252 tonnes in 2023 to just 44 tonnes. Other markets, like Spain, Mexico and Colombia, have yet to buy any banana from Peru so far this year.

By contrast the Netherlands, Peru’s biggest market, took 16,667 tonnes of fresh bananas, 9 per cent more than in 2023. Shipments to Panama and Italy, the second and third markets, totalled 11,236 tonnes and 6,206 tonnes, representing increases of 7 per cent and 24 per cent respectively.

The US, South Korea and Japan are also important export markets.

The fall will cause concern in a sector that has been beset by challenges in recent seasons. El Niño had a major impact on quality in 2023, causing heavy rains and a higher incidence of pests. Price pressure on the international market prompted many exporters to focus instead on the domestic market.

Overall, Peru exported 146,515 tonnes of fresh bananas worth US$112m last year, a drop of 16 per cent in volume and 8 per cent in value.

According to Fresh Fruit Peru, this has resulted in growing uncertainty about the long-term future of the industry. Almost all of Peru’s banana exports are organic, but Ecuador is ramping up its production of organic bananas, putting considerable pressure on Peru, particularly in the US market.

Ecuador is now the main supplier of organic bananas to the US and in the past two years it has gained further market share due to production issues in other supplier countries, such as Peru and the Dominican Republic.