Back to Main

Bananas still cost peanuts, even with prices rising

Stored under Caption This!GamesMiscellaneousNewsRecipesRelated EBay AuctionsReviewsVideosVisual Stimulation on April 3, 2008

Yes, we have bananas, but you may notice a lot more dark green ones on grocer's shelves along with higher prices.

A cool winter in Central America, flooding in Ecuador and increased demand in Europe are creating a shortage in North America and forcing stores to rush supplies to market greener than usual, says local banana man Ron Chiovitti.

At the same time, transportation costs are skyrocketing, which explains why the price has shot up by 10 to 20 cents a pound.

"Our market has already moved up 10 cents," says Chiovitti, 61, North America's largest importer and distributor of bananas. But even if our favourite fruit rises to 69 cents a pound, it's still the best buy in the produce department.

"Even local apples cost more than a buck a pound," says the former drummer whose Italian great-grandfather began peddling bananas on Toronto streets in the early 1900s. "At three to a pound, a banana might cost you 20 cents each."

Most bananas are bought on impulse and we often don't even notice the price, Chiovitti adds. "If they look nice and they're the right colour, you're going to buy them."

Though his organic banana business is growing 10 per cent a year in volume, he says it's driven by price rather than conscience. If regular bananas are 49 cents and organics 99 cents a pound, consumers will buy a regular bunch. But if regular bananas are 69 and organics 79, he sells more organics.

In a typical week, Chiovitti trucks up to 3.5 million pounds of boxed bananas into southern Ontario from U.S. ports, then ripens them for four to five days in the company's 50 ripening rooms at its Etobicoke headquarters and at the Ontario Food Terminal.

Though he estimates that Canadians eat more than 35 pounds of the super-nutritious fruit a year, banana barons such as Dole and Del Monte have big plans to encourage us to eat even more.

Bunches of Chiquita bananas are already appearing beside the checkout in some local supermarkets. If we follow the U.S. lead, by the end of the year we should see single ripe bananas for sale in high-end coffee shops and fast-food chains.

Will Canadians buy a 99-cent banana with their $3.50 latte?

"We'll see!" says Chiovitti, whose bedside reading includes the current bestseller The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World by Dan Koeppel.

[News Source]

Did you find this post useful? Then Digg It.


Write a comment

Remember personal info?
 (Alex R. Thomas & Co)