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Goodfarmer Exec: China’s Bananas Have Much Room for Improvement

October 31, 2016

Goodfarmer branded imported bananas

China is the world’s second largest producer of bananas, growing an estimated 13 million tons in 2015. The country is also the world’s second largest consumer of bananas and domestic demand continues to grow.

This situation would lead a casual observer to expect that a leading Chinese fresh fruit trader such as Goodfarmer, which sells about 120,000 tons of bananas annually in the Chinese market, would source a substantial amount of its bananas from within China

In fact, the opposite is the case. Goodfarmer imports more than ninety percent of the bananas it sells in China—mostly from the Philippines and Ecuador—and sources only a very small portion from within China.

In an interview at the 2016 International Fruit Conference in Xi’an, the Goodfarmer executive in charge of bananas, Mr Zhang Jingzhen, told Produce Report why. It’s about lack of strong domestic brands and also quality, said Zhang. But mostly quality.

The unstable quality of domestic bananas means they are not suitable for sale at high end retailer outlets, said Zhang. He went on to explain that he believes the Chinese banana industry needs comprehensive upgrades, spanning from planting through to packing and transportation and linking up to the end retailer. Some of his specific suggestions for upping the quality and consistency of domestic bananas include standardized packaging, better packing processes, cold-chain logistics with fewer unloads and reloads, and modern ripening facilities.

According to Zhang, accomplishing this upgrade will require scientific management as well as plenty of financial investment and patience. And the work will not be done there: quality problems addressed, producers will still have to build strong brands and stable channels to market.

Nevertheless, if producers heed Zhang’s advice, perhaps in another decade China will not just be a top producer of bananas but also a producer of top bananas.

Goodfarmer branded imported bananas

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