The banana is a fruit, whose many varieties are produced throughout the tropical world year-round. The world’s top exported fruit, the global banana demand is worth $4 billion annually. Therein lies an intrigue international success story with lessons to be learned about overseas trade.
Each year, almost 80 million tons (72.5 million metric tons) of bananas are grown around the world. Collectively, India, Ecuador, Brazil, and China produce more than half of the world’s bananas, though most of their crops are consumed at home. In fact, slightly more than 80 percent of all the world’s bananas are grown and consumed locally. Of the four biggest producers, only Ecuador grows bananas primarily for export.
Of the less than 20 percent of bananas exported, three-quarters go to the United States, the European Union and Japan. Seventy-five percent of all exported bananas come from plantations in only four countries: Ecuador, Costa Rica, Colombia, and The Philippines.
Portuguese sailors who bought bananas from north Africa carried it to the continent of America for the first time in the 1500s.
Even by the 1870s, the banana was not yet a well-known and demanded fruit in Europe and the USA.
In 1870, Lorenzo Dow Baker arrived on the shores of New Jersey with a bold decision to load 160 bunches of bananas on his sailboat instead of fish from Jamaica. In 1873 Central American railroad developer Minor C. Keith began to experiment with banana production in Costa Rica. Later, he planted bananas alongside a Costa Rican railroad track to provide revenue for the railroad.
Mr. Baker earned $2 for each bunch of bananas he sold. That meant 1000 percent profit. Boston had become their main stop when 21-year-old young Boston entrepreneur Andrew Preston was included, who realized early on that bananas will be extremely popular in North America. Mr. Baker and Mr. Preston founded Boston Fruit Company in 1885.