Banana price rise due to inspections

An island wholesaler has blamed banana price hikes on increased inspection costs.

A spokesman for Butterfield&Vallis said that the repeated rise in the cost of the fruit in the past year was “related to the increasing cost of fruit inspection by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources”.

He said that a load of bananas brought to Bermuda had been “heavily impacted” by mealybugs last November.

The spokesman added that the small insects had the potential to cause damage to the island’s ecosystem if undetected.

He said: “Since that period, the DENR has mandated rigorous inspections of every lot of bananas being imported to the market. This is in addition to a DENR-mandated inspection by the United States Department of Agriculture prior to the export of the bananas.

“These two inspections come with not only significant operational challenges for importers, but also a significant direct cost as the importers are charged a $10 per case inspection fee on hundreds of cases per month locally plus fees charged by the USDA.”

The spokesman added that a knock-on effect was that the bananas arrived in stores later and had a shortened shelf life. He said that “heightened inspections” had continued all year.

The spokesman added: “That has meant that the cost of these inspections is having to be transferred to the consumer via higher pricing.

“Numerous efforts have been made by the importers to improve the situation, however they have unfortunately not resulted in fewer inspection-related costs.”

He said that the business supported the mandate of the DENR to protect Bermuda’s ecosystem. But the spokesman added: “That said, importers are left in a position where the costs are either passed along to consumers or the import of bananas is discontinued.

“We do not want to see the Bermuda market without bananas, however we felt it important that the public understand the nature of recent price increases.”

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Published Dec 2, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Dec 2, 2019 at 8:03 am)

Banana price rise due to inspections

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