Cultivation and production of Bananas
Bananas are cultivated almost in all countries that have a tropical climate, and above all in Central America, in Tropical Africa and in the Philippines.
Major countries producers of bananas worldwide are India, Brazil, Ecuador and Indonesia. The major world producer of bananas absolutely is India, with 23% of the world production (2010 data); follow Brazil, Ecuador, China and the Philippines. The major world producers of bananas however, such as India, Brazil and China, actually have quite a limited exports rate, because of the high internal demand. Of 68 million tons of bananas produced in 2002, only 14 million (about the 21%) have been traded on the world fruit and vegetable market.
The trade of bananas takes place elsewhere: Latin America is the main exporter of bananas worldwide, with 80% of the market share; in fact, major exporters, mainly to Europe, are Ecuador, with 34% of the world exports of bananas, Costa Rica, with 16%, Colombia, with 13% and the Philippines.
The production of bananas of the Dominican Republic has become increasingly important in the international fruit and vegetable trade, creating a value of 98 million dollars (152 million euros) in 2010; the export of bananas from the Dominican Republic is addressed mainly to foreign markets, 95% of which is represented by the European Union, while the other 5% of the local production of bananas is exported instead to the USA, to Japan and to the Antilles.
Bananas are the most exported fresh fruit worldwide as to volume, and alone, they represent, as to the gross value of the world production, the fourth most important food cultivation of the world, after rice, wheat and corn.
One of the features of the market of bananas is the role played by the big multinational companies that control the entire production chain. The multinational company known the most worldwide as to exports of bananas is Chiquita: it is present in 11 countries and has an income of 2.5 billion euros, employing 40,000 person; Chiquita, Dole, and Del Monte alone manage to make sure that 2/3 of the world trade of bananas is theirs, with a share of more than 4.5 billion euros on a total of 7.
As to imports, the major part of the world demand of bananas comes from the main industrialized countries, in particular from Europe, USA and Japan, which represent almost 60% of the world imports of bananas.
Europe is the second world market as to the fruit and vegetable sector of bananas, with a volume of consumption very similar to that of the USA. The distinctive feature of the European fruit and vegetable market of bananas is its price regime that has been at the centre of a quite complicated international dispute which has strongly influenced the international market. Nowadays, in fact, the European committee for the managing of the common organization of the markets abolished the system of licences to import bananas with a unique price system, opening the market of the trade of bananas also to other subjects.
Usually, bananas consumed in Europe come from three different group of countries, among which stand out Spain (Canary Islands), France (Guadeloupe and Martinique), Greece and Portugal (Madeira and Azores), African countries, countries from Caribbean and from the Pacific, and finally countries from Latin America.
After the exploitation of banana harvesters by multinational companies, starting from the Nineties, the cultivation of bananas for fair trade has increased to such an extent that in Italy the sale of fair trade bananas exceeded of 50% the total sale of bananas.