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Ecuadorian Bananas Say “Bello!” to Chinese Consumers

October 04, 2015

The promotion of bananas with the popular animated movie Minions has been launched in 27 countries by Chiquita. This marketing concept was devised by taking advantage of the fact that bananas are a staple part of the diet of the characters in Minions and they frequently repeat the word “banana” in the movie. Consumers can use the Chiquita app to scan a Chiquita banana sticker, unlock it in a virtual sticker book, and win prizes. The promotion aims to engage more consumers with the Chiquita brand and expand the market share.

Last month, Chiquita continued their “Minion” campaign by promoting Ecuadorian bananas at the movie premiere of Minions at the cinema chain UA Cinemas in Shenzhen. The first promotional campaign took place at the KK Mall, the largest shopping center in the city, and aimed to promote its bananas and inform consumers about the Ecuadorian origin of the fruit. Moviegoers received a complimentary banana as well as an informative map of Ecuador. This was the first promotional campaign for fruit that has been carried out at this chain of cinemas and it has already positioned itself strongly in a new region of China.

Mr. Paul Peñaherrera Medina, Consul (Commercial Section) of the Consulate General of the Republic of Ecuador in Guangzhou, attended the campaign. He told Produce Report that Ecuadorian banana exports have been growing rapidly in the last two years. In 2013, Ecuador only exported around 32,938 tons of bananas to China; yet according to statistics from the Central Bank of Ecuador, 258,306 tons of bananas reached the Chinese market in 2014, which is nearly eight times more than the previous year and approximately 5% of Ecuador’s total banana exports. The skyrocketing trend has continued this year. By July 2015, Ecuador had already exported 196,448 tons to China, which is 75% higher than the exports during the same period in 2014.

The significant growth in Ecuadorian banana exports to China stems from the stable and sufficient supply as well as the outstanding quality of Ecuadorian bananas. Ecuador ranks among the world’s top producers of bananas and exports more than four million tons annually throughout the year, whereas China’s largest banana supplier, the Philippines, has suffered from low yields due to El Nino and export obstacles due to political reasons. The quality of Ecuadorian bananas stands out from domestic Chinese bananas and this has led to their popularity in high-end markets. Furthermore, most domestic bananas are grown in the south, but the high cost of delivery to northern China loses its advantage against imported bananas.

According to Mr. Medina, the growth potential in China is considerable. At this time, around 24% of China’s total volume of imported bananas comes from Ecuador. Mr. Medina believes that the average consumption and knowledge of bananas is increasing. In the next five years, it is expected that Ecuador could provide 500,000 tons to China and reach around 40% of the market share. Thus, Ecuadorian suppliers are very interested in the Chinese market, and PRO ECUADOR in China is helping more Ecuadorian companies to get in contact with Chinese importers and is also participating in the main trade fairs and finding other important platforms to allow them a successful entrance into the Chinese market.

At the same time, Ecuador is sparing no effort in the fight against potential damage brought by El Niño, which is nowadays a major issue in South American banana production. Mr. Rafael Correa, the president of Ecuador, has announced details of contingency plans worth 850 million US Dollars to reduce the potential impact. Mr. Medina also stated that banana production has not yet been greatly affected.

Image Source: The Consulate General of the Republic of Ecuador in Guangzhou

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