Wednesday , June 3 2020

Coronavirus pandemic may hit banana supplies in Asia next


Get your potassium while you can. The coronavirus pandemic may limit supplies of bananas in Asia. Growers in the Philippines, the world’s second-biggest exporter, said overseas shipments may drop by nearly 40% this year as lockdowns and social distancing measures curb output and transport.
The country’s exports of the fruit are expected to plunge to about 2.5 million tons this year from 4 million last year, said Stephen Antig, executive director of the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association. Producers, including Unifrutti Tropical Philippines Inc, have halted some operations, he said.
“Bananas have to be harvested every day,” said Alberto Bacani, president of Unifrutti Philippines. “By the time we come back, a lot of that fruit will be spoiled and will have to be thrown away.”
The Philippines accounted for an estimated 20% of global banana shipments in 2019 and about 90% of total export volumes in Asia, with its two major markets being China and Japan, according to a 2020 report
from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN. Ecuador is the largest exporter.
The country’s main island of Luzon has been under a lockdown since mid-March that will last through the end of April. Provinces in the southern Philippines, which is home to many plantations, have also imposed quarantine measures. Exports of the fruit will continue to be impacted after restrictions are lifted, according to Antig, as social distancing measures are expected to remain in place that limit the number of workers.
The coronavirus outbreak has snarled food production and shipments globally as quarantines, sick workers, export bans and panic buying result in some empty grocery store shelves.

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