In 2018 South Africa imported R522mil worth of bananas, with our local banana industry still recovering from a serious drought. This made us one of the 50 largest banana importers worldwide and the largest importer of bananas in Africa in terms of value. The largest importers of bananas in the world are the USA (R34bn), Belgium (R17bn) and Russia (R15bn).
Interestingly, back in 2013 we imported only R6mil (2018: R522mil) worth of bananas as local production managed to fill the demand gap. This is again an indication of how severe the South African drought was (and in many parts of the country still is!) the last 5 years.
Most of the bananas we import came from Mozambique (c.80%) the last 2 calendar years. Followed by Swaziland and Ecuador.
The recent cyclone that hit Mozambique has spared the country’s major banana growing areas as the major regions are in the southern part of the country. The northern parts of the county were also not affected; however they are struggling with the TR4 disease – a disease that is devastating for banana production.
Although we get the majority of our banana imports from Mozambique, Ecuador (in red below) remains the largest exporter of bananas worldwide. Latin American countries are well suited for banana production and they are very close the largest buyer of bananas: the USA.
Lastly, looking at the retail price of bananas, bananas have seen a lengthy period of deflation, but the last 4 months the price has been increasing. With the most recent price increase the price of bananas are 6% more expensive than in Dec 2016.