Yes, we have bananas: Brazil is the largest producer in the Americas

Wenderson Araujo/CNA

Bananas are so well-adapted in Brazil that many Brazilians think the fruit has its origins in the Americas. Brazilian farmers produce around 6.5 to 7.5 million tons of bananas every year.

A study carried out by the Brazilian Agricultural Research Company (EMBRAPA) revealed that Brazilians consume around 25 kg/year of bananas. ”Bananas are very democratic. They are grown all year long, they are consumed by all genders and classes, they are affordable, they are tasty and also easy to eat,” says Jorge de Souza, manager at the Brazilian Association of Fruit and Derivative Exporters (Abrafrutas), who has been a banana grower for 15 years.

Cavendish x Prata
Unlike most countries where over 90% of the banana market is supplied by the Cavendish subgroup, Brazil has a larger variety of bananas. Nowadays, Cavendish represents 60% of the internal production; Prata, 31%; Plantains, 7.5%; and Apple-Banana, 1.5%.

“Commercially Cavendish and Prata bananas are the most profitable ones. Private collectors grow other types, but this production is inexpressive for the market,” explains him.

From Brazil
Banana is a crop that grows best in well-drained soils, with good water availability. “That’s why production is distributed throughout the country’s territory“, explains Letícia Fonseca, a fruit growing technician at the Brazilian Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock (CNA). “The expansion seen in recent years happened mainly in regions with irrigation projects, such as Vale do Jaíba and Vale do São Francisco“, adds Letícia.

Ninety-five (95%) of the Brazilian production is consumed internally. However, there are companies specialized in exporting the product. In this business for over 20 years, Edson Brok, director of Tropical Nordeste and Brok Fresh, sells virtually all his production abroad. “We have all the certification needed, skilled labor, investments, and know-how to control every step until delivery,” tells Brok.

From his farm in Limoeiro do Norte, Ceará, in the Northeast of Brazil, around one million boxes of bananas are shipped to Europe every year, mainly to the United Kingdom.

“Brazilian bananas pay a higher tax in the European Union than bananas from other Latin and Central American countries. This fact makes competitiveness a challenge. However, our main buyers are there,” explains him.

The US, Germany, France, Italy, and Paraguay are among Brazil’s main importers. “Over the last year or so, during the pandemic, our sales to Argentina and Uruguay have increased. Hopefully, it will keep this way,” says Jorge de Souza.

Curiosities

– According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), there are more than one thousand varieties of bananas produced and consumed locally in the world.
– The most commercialized is the Cavendish banana subgroup, which accounts for almost 50% of all global production.
India is the largest producer of bananas, followed by China, Indonesia, and Brazil.
– The world production of bananas is expected to grow 1.5% per year, reaching 135 million tons in 2028 (FAO).
– Bananas are one of the most consumed and cheapest fruits worldwide: they are the most traded fruit and the fifth most traded agricultural product.
– The banana fruit has its origins in Southeast Asia. They began to be traded internationally by the end of the fourteenth century.

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