The entry of the large scale retail trade into the ripening world, “will become a turning point” for the ripening companies
Furthermore, this has been a completely unusual year, when bananas have reached prices of above 0.70 euros per kilo at source, according to MAPAMA.
Fruit Today euromagazine talked to José María Ruiz, manager of Plátanos Ruiz, who explained the sector’s most relevant points this year.
What has happened to make bananas reach such high prices?
A ‘perfect storm’ occurred. On the one hand, this winter we have experienced banana shortages, since they only started arriving in sufficient amounts in June; and on the other hand, the harvest in the Canary Islands was early at the beginning of the year due to the weather conditions and then decreased due to the strong winds that damaged the banana trees at the end of the first quarter. In May and June, stone fruit was also in short supply and the banana volumes started to fall off. Although at this point, bananas were available, there was no demand because the inertia of winter consumption continued with our produce. Due to all these reasons, with no fruit, banana prices reached an all-time high.
Do you think that there will be an upswing in banana consumption?
From our point of view, yes, because it is associated with ‘healthy’ eating and with energy. For this reason, runners are often seen eating bananas, which is a privileged example. Accordingly, our company sponsors many regional sporting events.
What is your opinion from the ripening sector’s point of view about the fact that some of the largest retail companies have decided to have their own ripening rooms?
This is not our case, but it is quite concerning since some of the present rooms will be left empty. It is risky to predict what will happen in the sector, but that will definitely be a turning point for many ripening companies.
But doesn’t a business of this type require important know-how?
Indeed. In bananas, the level of effectiveness can be greater because they have a more linear ripening, but Canarias has a more irregular produce due to its production on agricultural smallholdings and the type of control that we as true specialists carry out is not easy to achieve. Furthermore, this simple characteristic makes the Canary Island produce more delicious for eating.
In any event, you are committed and investing in the future.
Of course; we are specialists and we have been in the business for many decades. What is obvious is that you can’t get left behind in technology and therefore this year we have changed all our chilling equipment and the panelling of the two sales stands in the market, as well as refurbishing our offices.
With these vinyls on the walls, it gives the feeling that we are really in a plantation.
Yes, indeed. This was the idea, since it becomes a way of bringing the world of the banana closer to buyers. There are many people who have never seen these plantations on the islands first hand, and they really are spectacular.