Pedro Arias, an economist for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, said that world banana prices would increase sharply by the end of the year. He said: “Weather-wise, it has been drier than usual and we expect production to come down a bit. Fuel is impacting prices because of the cost of transportation . . . but the next big issue is the hurricane season, which started at the beginning of June.
“[Banana] prices have already risen to the same level as 2005, when we suffered an appalling hurricane season, which disrupted supplies. But we have been lucky over the past few years, so we are expecting a bad hurricane season this time round.”
Bananas are so integral to the British diet that the Office for National Statistics includes the fruit in the country’s inflationary basket of goods to help to calculate the cost of living. Britain imports the bulk of its bananas from the Windward Islands, Latin America and from a handful of plantations in West Africa.
The European Union is the world’s largest importer of bananas after the United States. According to the most recent UN figures, the EU imported 3.4 million tonnes in 2005. In April, Fyffes, the banana group, said that the cost of the fruit would continue to rise this year, because of increases in the price of fuel.