The Colombian company Uniban, dedicated to the marketing of bananas, expects to enter several markets in Eastern Europe with its product after closing a negotiation to annually export 40 million of that fruit to China, business sources reported Thursday.
Colombian worker in a banana export company. EFE / LUIS EDUARDO NORIEGA / Archive
"We have been making an important effort to start entering and developing markets with greater growth ... we make great efforts in everything that is Eastern Europe, in countries such as Poland, Hungary and Romania," the president of the company, Juan Luis Cardona.
The executive said that the search for these new markets is because its main buyers, the United States and some countries in Western Europe have "very organic growth, very slow" because the consumption of the fruit is already consolidated.
According to the figures given by Cardona, between 75 and 80% of banana production is exported to the United Kingdom, Germany, Holland, Belgium, France, Italy and Spain, among other countries.
The rest of the company's production, which exports 740,000 tons of the fruit each year, is sent to countries in North Africa and the Balkans.
On July 30, President Iván Duque announced that Colombia and China signed an agreement for the South American country to export four million boxes of bananas annually to the Asian giant.
This negotiation, which represents sales of 40 million dollars, will close a trade deficit that currently exists with China, according to Agriculture Minister Andrés Valencia Pinzón.
On the agreement, the president of Uniban affirmed that it is equivalent to about 93,000 tons taken to the Asian country every year, which he described as a "market of great potential", although he hopes that this volume can be "doubled or tripled" in the Next three years.
"China is the main producer and consumer of bananas in the world, but every time, every year, that deficit between its own production and consumption is expanding and they are having to resort to large imports," he said.
To reach that market, the Colombian company began negotiations with the Chinese Goodfarmer, which imports between 30 and 35% of bananas in that country, although at the beginning there were challenges such as the transit time of the product.
"At the beginning we saw it difficult to enter the Chinese market for the duration of transit of the ships, but as the shipping lines established more direct and faster routes, a window of opportunity began to open so that the product could arrive in good condition "said Cardona, who added that it currently takes 32 days to carry a cargo.
According to figures from the Ministry of Agriculture, Colombia annually produces about 2.1 million tons of bananas, making it the third export product in the sector with 12%.
In addition, this sector generates 917,165 direct and indirect jobs, mainly in the departments of La Guajira, Magdalena, and Cesar, as well as in the Urabá region of Antioquia.