The battle for bananas: Securing New Zealand’s supply chain for the world's biggest banana eaters
11 September 2023
Foodstuffs North Island Head of Meat and Produce, Brigit Corson
New Zealanders are the highest consumers of bananas in the world, eating a whopping 18kg per person each year, with the yellow curvy fruit often the number one item sold in the supermarket each week.
The Cavendish variety is sourced for the New Zealand market primarily from the Philippines as well as Ecuador and is the only variety consumed globally.
Foodstuffs North Island Head of Meat and Produce, Brigit Corson says the Kiwi love affair with the banana is due to a few factors, but the key reason being New Zealanders are simply good fruit eaters.
“Around forty per cent of Kiwis eat their five plus a day and bananas would make up a portion of that. They are also a portable fruit that has other uses like being frozen for smoothies or used in baking when overripe.
“Bananas are cultivated all year round and ripened in New Zealand so are typically always in stock. The price for bananas also remains relatively stable which also helps them remain a popular choice with customers,” Brigit says.
Brigit, who has recently visited banana plantations in The Philippines as well as Ecuador says that Foodstuffs have created enduring partnerships with key producers to ensure that Kiwis continue to have bananas readily available.
For these banana producing regions, supply to countries like New Zealand creates significant economic and community benefits.
“We’ve seen first-hand the benefits of the fair-trade programme to communities in Ecuador and Kiwis are supportive of that too, with fair-trade seeing the biggest growth for bananas in our stores,” she says.
World-wide, the banana market is growing at around 3% per annum driven from countries like China, the Middle East and Africa, which means securing banana supply remains highly competitive.
In recent years, the fusarium virus which originated in Africa, has been impacting Cavendish bananas globally with many producers now looking at ways to prevent the disease from spreading further.
“Growers like Dole in The Philippines have been looking at ways to develop disease resistance in plants and other ways to innovate to keep global supply steady.”
“There’s plenty to be optimistic about in terms of growers mitigating that risk, but something we are keeping a close eye on as well as any impacts on supply in the future,” she says.