A Danwatch investigation
The banana has been on its way long before you buy it for a few bucks a pound at the store. The fruit hangs on plants in the tropical regions of Ecuador for up to a year before it is hand picked, packed and sailed over the Atlantic Ocean to Europe. There, it waits to ripen until it is yellow and ready to eat.
Sarah Scheer Pedersen

Journalist

Photo: Esteban Barrera/Danwatch & Jesper Nymark/Danwatch

Editor: Louise Voller

Sarah Scheer Pedersen

Journalist

Photo: Esteban Barrera/Danwatch & Jesper Nymark/Danwatch

Redaktør: Louise Voller

I cooperation with Dagbladet (Norway)
The banana has been on its way long before you buy it for a few bucks a pound at the store. The fruit hangs on plants in the tropical regions of Ecuador for up to a year before it is hand picked, packed and sailed over the Atlantic Ocean to Europe. There, it waits to ripen until it is yellow and ready to eat.
Cultivated for up to 12 months

Ecuadorean bananas come from one of three provinces: Guayas, Los Rios and El Oro. The fruit is cultivated here for 9-12 months until it is hand picked and packed by the workers on the banana plantation.

Source: “How bananas are grown”, BananaLink
Cultivated for up to 12 months
Across the Atlantic

The green bananas are placed in containers that are cooled to under 14ºC in order to delay ripening. Then they are loaded onto cargo ships that take two weeks to cross the Atlantic and reach European ports.

Across the Atlantic
The world’s largest exporter

Ecuador is the world’s largest exporter of bananas. Last year, the country exported 6.7 million tons of bananas. Many of them end up in Europe, where in 2016, 1 in 4 bananas came from a plantation in Ecuador.

Source: EU-rapport, 2017
The world’s largest exporter
The fruit companies and the supermarkets

The major exporters in Ecuador are Chiquita, AgroAmerica, Dole Food, Grupo Wong, Cipal, Fyffes, and the Ecuadorean family-owned business Noboa.

Increasingly, however, large European supermarket chains are circumventing the big fruit companies and buying bananas directly from the plantations.

The fruit companies and the supermarkets
Ripening in Europe

When bananas arrive in European ports, they are still green and unripe. They are placed in ripening chambers for about a week, where ethyl gas turns the bananas ripe and yellow to make them ready for supermarket shelves.

Ripening in Europe
Transportation through Europe

Over half of all bananas travel via Germany before coming to Denmark. A smaller fraction arrives from Holland, Belgium, or other countries.

Source: Baseret på tal fra UN Cpmtrade Database
Transportation through Europe
At your supermarket

In Denmark, conventionally farmed bananas from Ecuador are sold by the Coop, Dagrofa, Lidl and Aldi chains.

So far in 2017, Coop has bought 379 tons of bananas from supplier Chiquita. Dagrofa, whose supermarkets include Meny and Spar, has sold 19 tons of bananas from Ecuador this year. Lidl and Aldi both sell Ecuadorian bananas, but “for the sake of commercial considerations” preferred not to disclose how many.

Source: Own survey
At your supermarket
The green frog

Coop, Lidl og Aldi oplyser, at de kun importerer sprøjtede bananer, der er Rainforest Alliance certificerede, hvilket betyder, at de farligste pesticider ikke anvendes.

Rainforrest Alliance oplyser dog til Danwatch at kun to bananplantager i Ecuador rent faktisk er blevet monitoreret i efteråret 2017, da vi besøgte plantagerne.

The green frog

More articles from this investigation. Where to start is up to you.

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