ááDecember 2009áá
áFood Outlook
ááGlobal Market Analysis

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(This note is based on the paper titled "Current Market Situation For Bananas And Tropical Fruits" Prepared For Joint Meeting Of The Fourth Session Of The Sub Group On Bananas And The Fifth Session Of The Sub-Group On Tropical Fruits (to be held in Rome, 9 - 11 Decemberá2009).
The full paper along with other Documents presented at the meeting are available at:



Trade expanded despite economic slowdown


World banana exports are estimated to have risen by oneápercent to 14.6ámillion tonnes in 2008. The annual growth rate was slightly below the 20 year average trend and reflected a minor change in the pattern of trade that affected volumes. The marginal expansion in global trade was underpinned by an overall increase in supplies from every region, except the Caribbean where exports continued to contract. Imports by Japan and China rose strongly in 2008 (12.6 and 9.2ápercent, respectively), and although the increase in shipments to the United States and the European Union was somewhat below trend, growth remained fairly robust at a respective 3.5 and 1.4ápercent. The apparent resilience of import demand to economic recession, especially in countries where the downturn has been severe, is largely on account of competitively priced bananas and tropical fruits vis-Ó-vis temperate and other substitute fruits and the fact that expenditures on fruits generally form only a smallápercentage of overall household incomes in such countries.

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In Latin America, the supply of bananas from Ecuador, the world's largest banana exporting country, increased to 4.7ámillion tonnes in 2008. Unseasonable weather conditions were not conducive towards crop development, but firm support prices fostered an expansion in plantings. The official minimum price paid to producers was raised to USD 4.7 per box in 2008 up almost USD 1 from the previous year. In Julyá2009, a price of USD 5.40 was set by authorities, much to the consternation of traders, as the increase coincided with falling market prices in the key import destinations of Europe and the Russian Federation. Export volumes from Colombia also increased in 2008 despite declining competitiveness as a result of the depreciation of the UnitedáStatesáDollars against the Colombian Peso. In Honduras, expanding exports continue to underpin the resurgence of the sector, in the wake of severe damage caused by Hurricane Felix in 2006. Although tropical storms in early June afflicted some banana plantations in Guatemala, weather conditions were generally favourable towards yields and prompted exports to rise by 2ápercent in 2008. By contrast, adverse weather resulted in a reversal of productivity gains, registered in Costa Rica and Panama in recent years , causing exports to plummet by more than 9 and 16ápercent, respectively.

In 2007, a series of tropical storms and hurricanes also affected banana crops in the Caribbean, resulting in a disruption to tradable supplies in the following year. The most devastating of which was Hurricane Dean, a powerful cyclone that left a trail of destruction in Dominica, Guadalupe, Martinique and St Lucia. Subsequently, exports did not return to normal levels until mid-2008. A succession of severe weather events including Hurricane Dean in Jamaica and flooding and wind damage from tropical storms Olga and Gustav virtually wiped out export potential for the country in 2008.

The Asian banana market witnessed some notable developments in 2008. India, the largest banana producer in the world, has been exploring the possibility of exporting to the EuropeanáUnion and some trial shipments were conducted in 2008. In the Philippines, the largest exporter of bananas in the region, shipments declined by 1.1ápercent to 2.19ámillion tonnes. Access to the lucrative Australian banana market was further stalled as a Senate Committee recommended that import permits for Philippine bananas not be granted until phytosanitary risk management measures and work plans to be undertaken by the Philippines were independently scrutinized. A larger fall in shipments (13ápercent) was recorded by China, but from a significantly smaller base volume. Banana production has been growing rapidly in China, mostly to meet the needs of the domestic market, but if the current pace were to continue, there could be negative implications for future exports from the Philippines, which today account for some 85ápercent of China's total banana deliveries. In Africa, exports in 2008 from Cameroon recovered from the weather affected harvest of 2007, but those from C˘te d'Ivoire declined by 9ápercent.

Banana prices continue firming in spite of the economic slowdown


Regarding prices, average import quotations for bananas in 2008, measured in United Nations Dollars terms, were higher in most countries compared with 2007. The upward momentum was in line with the pervasive increase in the prices of agricultural commodities observed in 2007 to mid-2008. However, banana prices remained strong throughout the year and well into 2009 despite the global economic recession. High import prices of bananas were due to the combined effects of higher input costs, greater freight charges, a weaker UnitedáStatesáDollar, and in Asia, a tighter supply situation due to lower exports from the Philippines.

At the retail level, prices in Europe reached a five-year high in Aprilá2008 when the price reported in France reached EUR 1.88 perákg, but the seasonal downturn, which usually occurs in the second half of the year as demand for bananas in summer falls, reduced the average for the year to EUR 1.69/kg. Nevertheless, in UnitedáStatesáDollar terms, the average price of 2.48 perákg in 2008 was the highest in decades. The upward trend in prices has continued well into 2009, and prices look set to register a successive record.



Tropical fruits are important to developing countries from both a nutritional and export-revenue perspective. They are cultivated widely in the tropics at commercial and subsistence levels and until the 1970s, were mostly utilized for domestic consumption. These fruits are relatively cheap and provide a ready source of vitamins and minerals. In recent years trade volumes have expanded dramatically, as developing countries increasingly regard tropical fruits as an attractive option for diversification away from traditional export crops, which have experienced downward trends in prices. However, exports to major markets are required to comply with internationally certifiable production, food safety and quality standards, which can be very stringent and hence costly.

Production remained steady


World production of tropical fruits was estimated at over 82.7ámillion tonnes in 2008, slightly more than produced in the previous year. Mango dominatated global output with a share of almost 40ápercent. World production of pineapples comprised about 25ápercent, followed by papaya at 10ápercent and avocado at 4ápercent. The minor tropical fruits, i.e. those that are generally traded in smaller volumes, such as lychees or litchis, durian, rambuttan, guavas and passion fruit, recorded a combined output of 17.8ámillion tonnes in 2008 or roughly 22ápercent of all tropical fruit production.

Asia is by far the largest producing region for tropical fruits, followed by Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa and Oceania. In 2008, Asia was the most important producer of mangoes, accounting for 74ápercent of world production. Latin America and the Caribbean had a share of 16ápercent, Africa 10ápercent, and the balance was produced in Oceania. Pineapple output in 2008 was also governed by Asia with a share of 49ápercent of global production, followed again by Latin America and the Caribbean (38ápercent) and Africa (12ápercent). The Latin America and the Caribbean region accounted for over two-thirds of world avocado production and 39ápercent of all papaya output.

Data on minor tropical fruits remain scarce, but an assessment has been made from returns made by some producing countries, as well as industry sources. Of the estimated 17.8ámillion tonnes of minor tropical fruits produced in 2008, guava accounted for 27.5ápercent with an output of 4.9ámillion tonnes, lychees 2.8ámillion tonnes, longan 2.4ámillion tonnes, durian 1.9ámillion tonnes, rambuttan 1.7ámillion tonnes and passion fruit nearly 1ámillion tonnes.

Only a small portion of production is traded but exports have increased


About 90ápercent of the tropical fruits produced globally are consumed in producing countries themselves, exchanged on formal and informal markets. Some 10ápercent is traded internationally; 5ápercent as fresh fruits and a similar proportion traded as processed products. The overall contribution to farm/rural household incomes is significant with the value of production of tropical fruits estimated at USDá43.7ábillion in 2008.

Although internationally traded fresh tropical fruit produce represents only a small proportion of the total volume produced, quantities are relatively large compared with temperate fruits, and export values are significant. In 2008, the total value of international trade of fresh tropical fruits was USDá4.5ábillion, compared with USDá7.5ábillion for bananas, USDá6.2ábillion for apples, USDá3.3ábillion for oranges and USDá2.2 billion for pears. Processed tropical fruit transactions were valued at USDá1.9 in 2008.

Revenue data for exports and re-exports in 2008 indicate a 1.5ápercent increase in fresh tropical fruits, with a moderate increase of 3ápercent registered for mangos and papayas and a small increase of 2ápercent for pineapples. The surge in exports of MD-2 pineapples from Costa Rica, which peaked at an unprecedented 1.1ámillion tonnes in 2006, has underpinned the growth in fresh pineapple trade, but has since slowed down in 2008. Exports of avocadoes on the other hand declined by around 5ápercent to 623 500 tonnes. Exports of minor fruits registered a relatively strong growth of over 3ápercent in 2008, as regional demand in Asia remained steadfast in spite of the economic recession.

The United States is the largest importer of fresh tropical fruits followed by the EuropeanáUnion, Japan and China. The United States and the EuropeanáUnion together accounted in similar proportion for some 75ápercent of world imports of pineapple, mango, papaya and avocado in 2008. Global inflows of minor tropical fruits on the other hand were mostly destined for China, Malaysia and Singapore, as demand for these fruits tends to be concentrated in Asia.

Prices followed a rising trend in recent years


Price information varies widely depending on quality and origin. In the United Kingdom, annual average wholesale prices for tropical fruits expressed in UnitedáStatesáDollars have increased in 2008, albeit at varying degrees, underpinned by strong demand. However, reported prices for 2009 indicate a decline relative to 2008, except for pineapples. For instance, the decline in the price of avocado over January to Septemberá2009 was 21ápercent, mango and papaya by 18 and 5ápercent, respectively, while pineapple prices increased by 2.4ápercent. Such price developments are in stark contrast to the period between 2005 and 2008, when avocado prices rose by 35ápercent, while papaya and mango prices increased by 50 and 32.5ápercent, respectively. Prices for pineapples increased substantially in the middle of the decade, before declining by a cumulative 9ápercent by 2008, reflecting the decline in supplies of smooth cayenne from Africa and an over reaction of MD2 producers to the dramatic growth in demand.

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