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Banana Economics Forum Bananas are the number one exported fruit in the world, and the number one fruit eaten in nearly every country. This forum is for discussions of the economics of bananas involving producers, economists, consumers, transporters, wholesalers, and governments.


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Old 06-21-2009, 11:22 AM   #21 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Marketing bananas in the US

The 1000 mats per ha seems about right, which is why I noted that with 5 acs you are looking at a couple thousand mats...

Not baging the fruit? Why is that? Bagging provides 2 primary advantages--first, it brings the fruit on quicker, perhaps a week or so... which over the course of lots of mats means lots more fruit per ac per year.

Second is the quality... you will get MUCH nicer, cleaner fruit with bags. The bags protect them from wind, rain, dust, bugs, sunburn. Your cullage will be much less, you will have a much higher % of marketable fruit. When you see in the literature that up to 40% of the fruit in places is culled, you can bet that they were un-bagged.

In the intensive banana producing areas of the world, if a bag comes off, they just cut down he plant and wait for the follower as it is not worth harvesting.

I highly recommend that you experiment with bags. In Hawaii, they use both a fine mesh reusable bag, and also the poly bag with small air holes punched in it common in Central America. Medjool date growers also use the fine mesh bags.

And that is where the color coding comes in. You may know this, but for those who don't, growers use flagging ribbon at bagging to note which week the raceme was bagged. Most have a 10 color rotation, some use multiple colors tied together if they can't find enough colors (red over blue, blue over red, solid red, solid blue makes 4 weeks with 2 colors). Harvest is then simplified by only having to look for the 25 or so racemes with that color each week of harvest in each acre.

Don't fool yourself to think that specialty bananas are less intensive!!! Proper Husbandry is critical for success in all flavors... the weeds have to be kept down, the daughter plants selected, dead leaves pruned, the flowers cut off and the non productive hands removed from each raceme, fertilizer applied for max production, pest scouting. Holes in the plantings need to be re-populated, pathways to get the fruit out of the field maintained... boggy areas filled so you can get though them when it is wet, drainage ditches cut so the low areas don't drown. All of these things will be issues at some point, and many more I have not mentioned. And this does not even begin to cover the upkeep on packing needs... tank maintainence, getting the alum ratios right, clean cutting areas, box storage, etc etc etc ad nauseum...

If you are doing it organic, then even more so as Organic production takes much better managment, and you must be way in front of the curve on pest management--which includes weeds as well as bugs and diseases.

as for the mosquitos... part of the package!!

Again, best wishes!
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Old 06-29-2009, 03:07 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Default Re: Marketing bananas in the US

The tagging is something I definitely intend on doing, just to make it much easier to deal with harvesting. Bagging is a whole different issue. The market for specialty bananas(caribbean hispanics) don't seem to be very obsessed with how things look on the outside. I've seen the bags in Latin America, but not here in Florida.
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Old 06-29-2009, 09:01 PM   #23 (permalink)
 
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Question Re: Marketing bananas in the US

I grow mine organically on about a quarter acre, spacing them at 10-12 feet. On the curb next to where they grow, they fetch $1.00 per pound green for the entire bunch. I'm new at this and would appreciate any input that would enhance my production, and grow my bottom line. I also sell the AgriStarts TC plants for $15 each or 2/$25 at about three months old. In Pahokee the banana growing should be quite rewarding as your soil conditions are naturally optimal. To improve our Miami-Dade county skinny (0 to 10 inches) soil covering the limestone formation, I use coffee grounds, buried fish heads, worm castings, green manure, and compost to supplement the soil along with mulch and fresh horse stable sweeps. I also use K-Mag a.k.a. SulPoMag. Where can one get the bags suggested and at what point are they tied over the green fruit?
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Old 06-30-2009, 07:38 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Default Re: Marketing bananas in the US

The closest location to Miami that I have seen the bags is in Puerto Rico. I've seen pictures of other subtropical growing locations like the Canary Islands, the Azores, and Madeira and I don't see any bags there. The only bags I saw in all of Puerto Rico were on a plantation where the Bananas were destined for the cruise ships leaving San Juan. And your assumptions about the very rich soil up here are well founded. I had about 0.25 acres of Dwarf Cavendish at my house when I moved in, never gave them much thought as far as watering or fertilizing and they would produce 90 lbs bunches reliably. I got sigatoka really bad last year and had to really focus on sanitation and spraying to get rid of that disease. So far this year, the plants have all looked really good.
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Old 06-30-2009, 08:02 AM   #25 (permalink)
 
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Question Re: Marketing bananas in the US

Nicolas how are you combating the Sigatoka and what are you doing to improve sanitation? There are several large plots of bananas along US 27 down here south of Kendall Drive that are now beginning to look fairly well grown...I noticed that they recently have had horse manure mounded up around them and am wondering why the grower applied it so late in the growing cycle. The last time I was in your area I was collecting chicken manure from the Ag center in Belle Glade. I often pass through the area when I travel north to Vero Beach so as to avoid I-95.
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Old 06-30-2009, 09:45 AM   #26 (permalink)
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Default Re: Marketing bananas in the US

Sanitation like clearing out the suckers so that the plants can get some airflow and dry out. I also cut off the sigatoka infected leaves. When things got bad late last summer I was alternating copper with azoxystrobin. I think the cool weather this winter and the extremely dry spring took a lot of pressure off and I haven't had to spray again. I'm kinda interested in trying something called Serenade which is supposed to inhibit sigatoka naturally.
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Old 06-30-2009, 01:53 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Default Re: Marketing bananas in the US

In the dvd from Scot Nelson it mentions the cleaning out of suckers to improve airflow and decrease the likelihood of fungal infection.
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Old 07-01-2009, 09:19 AM   #28 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Marketing bananas in the US

In the US marketing food can be a PITA with very little or no (negative) profit if things are not done right.
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Old 07-22-2009, 05:23 PM   #29 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Marketing bananas in the US

Maybe I asked the question in the wrong forum. I noticed ar963 said 26-27 for a 30lb box, but I thought they were 40lb boxes in the USA.

Does anyone have an idea of the going price for bananas wholesale ATM?
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Old 07-22-2009, 06:02 PM   #30 (permalink)
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Default Re: Marketing bananas in the US

Ecuador spot price is $5.40 US for 40lb cases.
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Old 07-23-2009, 06:21 AM   #31 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Marketing bananas in the US

My guess for the US is $20-30 for a case. Big stores may have deals to get them directly from South America for cheaper. I did get a case for $5 once though when they accidentally got a shipment that was too big to sell normally.
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Old 07-23-2009, 09:43 AM   #32 (permalink)
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Default Re: Marketing bananas in the US

Different varieties come in different size boxes. Cavendish and Burro come in 40lbs cartons, Manzano and Reds come in 20lbs cartons and baby bananas come in 15 lbs cartons. The Los Angeles terminal market carries all these varieties and has price updates online daily. LA terminal Market Apparently Nam wah bananas are packed in 30lbs boxes but their movement is not great enough to register on the market report. From what I have gathered retail markup on most produce is about 30%-40%. From what I have recently seen in grocery stores it may be even more as bananas at my local grocer are $0.69/lb
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Old 07-23-2009, 09:56 AM   #33 (permalink)
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Default Re: Marketing bananas in the US

Quote:
Originally Posted by lorax View Post
Ecuador spot price is $5.40 US for 40lb cases.
I have been trying to figure out for the life of me how much it cost to ship a case from Ecuador to Florida. I am also led to believe that bananas leaving central america are worth more (about $7.20) than those leaving Ecuador. Banana prices in the Americas
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Old 07-23-2009, 12:12 PM   #34 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicolas Naranja View Post
Different varieties come in different size boxes. Cavendish and Burro come in 40lbs cartons, Manzano and Reds come in 20lbs cartons and baby bananas come in 15 lbs cartons. The Los Angeles terminal market carries all these varieties and has price updates online daily. LA terminal Market Apparently Nam wah bananas are packed in 30lbs boxes but their movement is not great enough to register on the market report. From what I have gathered retail markup on most produce is about 30%-40%. From what I have recently seen in grocery stores it may be even more as bananas at my local grocer are $0.69/lb

Thanks Nick.

As far as retail price goes you can't gauge by final price all of the time. A lot of the majors(Kroger, Safeway, ect.) use bananas just like milk as lost leaders. Selling at no profit or even below cost.
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Old 07-23-2009, 02:02 PM   #35 (permalink)
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Default Re: Marketing bananas in the US

Quote:
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Thanks Nick.

As far as retail price goes you can't gauge by final price all of the time. A lot of the majors(Kroger, Safeway, ect.) use bananas just like milk as lost leaders. Selling at no profit or even below cost.
The cheapest that I have seen them at any retail outlet in the past year in South Florida was $0.39/lbs and that was at produce stand selling them hard green. There are so many middlemen in the produce industry it is hard telling what you would pay the importer. I read in a book that bananas represented 10% of all produce sales in the grocery store and 1% of all sales in the entire store. I'd like to think that they wouldn't give up one that much profit potential but it does happen.
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Old 07-23-2009, 02:53 PM   #36 (permalink)
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Default Re: Marketing bananas in the US

Nick, a container of bananas from Ecuador to LA by sea costs about $1000, on top of the cost of the cases inside that container. I have no idea how many cases one can fit into a standard 10' sea can. Our bananas don't normally come into Florida by sea anyhoo - LA is more direct, since Miami involves a trip through the Panama Canal.

A single case by air from Quito or Guayaquil to Miami is about $15 on AeroGal reefer cargo; a hair less on Tampa or Martinair reefer cargo. (I'm figuring based on the per-kilo rate given a 40lb case.)

Both scenarios assume that you have a few other things done:

1. A signed agreement with Alvaro Noboa for exporting bananas from Ecuador (he's got the export monopoly, the **$%&*$#, so if theoretically I wished to send a hand of Maqueños to a friend in the US, I'd have to clear it with him first since it's fruit leaving the country....)
2. A food-safety certificate for Miami so that the fruit will actually clear customs before it rots
3. If you're going by sea, a receiver in your port of choice so that the fruit just changes reefers; if by air, a reefer truck to pick it up.
4. Some means of force-ripening at your final destination, since all of this is shipped hard green.
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Old 07-23-2009, 03:13 PM   #37 (permalink)
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I think you can put about 500 cases into a container, so right there you are looking at an extra $2 just to get it there and all the intermediaries haven't yet taken their slice of the pie. I actually saw a lot of bananas from Ecuador this past winter in South Florida grocery stores, which I suppose means that they got here the expensive way
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Old 07-23-2009, 03:14 PM   #38 (permalink)
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Yeah, but Chiquita has its own fleet of reefer planes. It's infinitely cheaper when you're not paying cargo. If you're starting to see bananas from Feijoo, that means they came via the canal or were flown to Florida from the California ports, because Feijoo only has ships. Turbana, which is just starting to export a tiny part of the Ecuador crop, ships out of Colombia via Medellin, so they avoid the canal entirely.

Oh, and I have to second what Steve West has to say about bagging the crop - you get a much better and more saleable result from it. In my case, bagging also protects against monkeys; in yours it will be valuable against squirrels and raccoons.
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Old 07-23-2009, 03:21 PM   #39 (permalink)
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Any idea of what the absolute breakeven price is down there for the average grower
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Old 07-23-2009, 03:28 PM   #40 (permalink)
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Ooh, you're talking slave wages. Commercial bananas are grown on plantations; for Chiquita to break even on Hacienda 25, for example (this is 500 ha or 1235 acres of bananas) they need to sell at $2.50-3.00 a case bare minimum. Hacienda 25 grows exclusively Gran Nains. On Hacienda 18, which grows plantains, they need to get $4.00 a case to break even. These are the bananas that you see in your markets up there. The daily wage of a Chiquita plantation worker is $5.00 US based on a 12-hour day; H25 employs about 100 workers.


For a smallholder, they need to be able to sell each raceme for at least $1.00 on the "common" varieties (Cav, Gran Nain, Seda, Orito), $1.50 for the "specialty" varieties (Rosado, Maqueño, Limon), and $3.00 for plantains, both verde and maduro. Most of the domestic bananas are grown this way, and all of the "specialty" bananas that are exported by Chiquita and Dole also come from smallholdings.

To give you an idea of the markup locally, I can, at the weekend fresh market, purchase a raceme of Oritos from the producer for $1.50, or I can buy a single hand from a reseller for the same price. A raceme of Oritos is generally 8-10 hands. This is in Quito, where bananas are not generally grown. If I go to a fresh market in Santo Domingo, which is the point of harvest, the price goes down about 50 cents.
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