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Banana wars: Is Africa losing the battle against South America?

By Estelle Maussion
Posted on Tuesday, 27 April 2021 15:29

Banana plantation in Côte d'Ivoire © Olivier for JA

The pan-African association Afruibana is sounding the alarm as South American bananas become increasingly popular on the European market, severely impacting producers in Côte d'Ivoire, Cameroon and Ghana.

On the European market, African banana suppliers are going head-to-head against their South American competitors, in a battle reminiscent of David and Goliath. Except the outcome of this confrontation is likely to be the opposite of the biblical story, as the big supplier – South America represented by Ecuador, Colombia and Costa Rica – will most certainly triumph over the small one, which is Africa and its three main producers: Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon and Ghana.

Representing 6.7 million tonnes in 2020, of which only 630,000 tonnes was produced in the EU, 75% of Europe’s market is supplied with South American “dollar” bananas while ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific) products make up only 15% of it.

Faced with this situation, Afruibana, a pan-African association of fruit producers and exporters created in 2017 and chaired by Cameroon’s Joseph Owona Kono, is once again sounding the alarm.

Building a win-win trade

Afruibana launched an appeal in Abidjan in 2019 calling for regulations to be put in place in the transport of African exports towards Europe.