• Banana economics. In 2005, Australia’s 1,850 banana growers
    are estimated to have produced over 20.4 million 13-kilogram cartons of
    bananas with an estimated wholesale value of AU$320-350 million.

  • The Banana State. The north Queensland industry is four
    times larger than it was during Cyclone Winifred (1986) and contributes
    85-90% of the national crop.

  • Banana varieties. Bananas are predominantly consumed as
    fresh product with Cavendish bananas accounting for approximately 95%
    of the market. The remaining 5% is represented by Lady Finger bananas
    and other cultivars such as Goldfinger, Ducasse, FHIA 18, Red Dacca,
    Sucrier and Plantain, etc. The latter cultivars together represent less
    than 1% of the total market.

  • Supermarket staple. Approximately 55% of all fruit and
    vegetables are sold through the two major supermarket chains. As much
    as 70% of all bananas may be sold through these two chains.

  • From shortage to glut? If every north Queensland banana
    plantation wiped out by Cyclone Larry were to grow back as quickly as
    possible then a full year’s production would hit the market at the same
    time and cause a massive glut, to be followed by another massive
    shortage several months later, according to the Australian Banana Growers’ Council.

  • A banana-free world? Some experts predict that in a
    decade, the banana will become extinct. This appears to be a fallacy.
    But it’s true that the Cavendish – yes, the variety that makes up 95%
    of Australia’s bananas – is under threat. Bananas are more vulnerable
    to disease than the majority of other fruits because they are sterile
    and seedless – in other words, clones. A fungus, Panama Disease,
    threatens the practically defenceless Cavendish in some Asian
    countries. If this were to spread, the impact could be devastating.

Statistics and facts courtesy of the Australian Banana Growers’ Council and Snopes.

Peter Fray

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