The African Banana and Other Fruit Growers Association (AFRUIBANA) wishes to express its great concern about the current situation in Ukraine and the repercussions that it has begun and will continue to have on the European banana market. While we would first like to deplore the human tragedy that is currently taking place at the gates of Europe and reiterate our conviction that agriculture and trade must be vectors of peace and cooperation between peoples and continents, at a time when all efforts should be focused on achieving a global ecological and energy transition, our members must nonetheless express their deep concern and call on decision-makers on both sides of the Mediterranean to act with resolve.
For the record, the European market has deteriorated significantly in recent years due to a structural overabundance of Latin American bananas and a continuous fall in the price of dessert bananas: the average price at the checkout (of 18.5 kg) was 14.2 euros in 2015 against only 11.6 euros in 2020. This dramatic evolution, which has been further amplified in 2021 (with prices temporarily falling below 10 euros), has already had a strong impact on our producers, whose considerable efforts to face the global wave of rising production costs must be remembered. These heavy antagonistic constraints have been raised by our association and members of our sector since the beginning of the year 2021, in a context where the European market remains the destination of nearly 90% of our exports.
The tensions caused by the current conflict threaten to aggravate these difficulties considerably. The rerouting to the European market of Latin American bananas usually marketed in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine (about 1.8 million tons) is of particular concern. With the cessation of activities in the port of Odessa or the suspension of services to major Russian ports by the major shipping companies, rerouting to the Romanian market has already taken place, where a substantial drop in prices has been noted since the end of February. While European and British banana consumption combined will represent nearly 6.7 million tons in 2021, this wave of trade flow redirections has the potential to deeply and permanently destabilize the entire European market.
In an exceptional situation, exceptional measures: African banana producers call on European institutions and governments to be very vigilant in their supervision and to consider the implementation of trade regulation instruments provided for by free trade agreements signed by the European Union or under the World Trade Organization.
Finally, in the face of the storm that is shaking and worrying our planet, we encourage the European institutions not to desert the bridge, to hold on firmly to the rudder of the ship and to maintain the ambitious course of the ecological transition, by ensuring that their partners in third countries are given the necessary technical and financial resources so that together we can cross this perilous strait and soon arrive at the safe harbour of a future worthy of the next generations.