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Climate Change Peels Away Banana Affordability

Banana prices are predicted to rise as climate change impacts the beloved fruit, warns one of the world's leading experts in the industry, speaking to BBC News.



Pascal Liu, a senior economist at the World Banana Forum, highlights that climate change poses a significant threat to banana supply, exacerbating the effects of rapidly spreading diseases. The forum is convening in Rome to address the challenges facing the fruit.


The UK, which imports approximately 5 billion bananas annually, mostly through major supermarkets, has recently seen shortages due to sea storms. Despite these shortages, most consumers may not have noticed, thanks to the UK's efficient supply chain management, including the ability of ripening centres to adjust the ripening rate of bananas upon arrival.


However, the long-term threats of climate change and disease spread are of growing concern. Climate change, in particular, is seen as a major threat to the banana sector, with severe weather affecting production and temperature increases potentially destroying crops in certain areas.


The spread of diseases, especially Fusarium Wilt TR4, a fungal infection that has spread from Australia and Asia to Africa and now South America, poses an immediate threat. This disease, which is particularly hard to eradicate, has mutated to threaten the Cavendish variety, the world's most popular banana.


The disease can spread quickly due to flooding and strong winds, phenomena that are becoming more common with changing weather patterns.


Additionally, producers face rising costs for fertilisers, energy, transport, and labour. These factors, combined with the impacts of climate change on supply, are expected to lead to price increases in the UK and globally.


The banana industry's meeting in Rome will also focus on sustainability, as consumers increasingly demand products that are produced in an environmentally friendly manner. For banana growers, this means not only adopting greener production methods but also obtaining certification from independent examiners to verify their sustainability.


These regulatory requirements, while beneficial in promoting sustainable production, also come with costs for producers, which are ultimately passed on to consumers.


The industry faces the challenge of balancing the need for sustainable production with the economic pressures of rising costs and the impacts of climate change.


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