Ecuador's banana exports dropped 10.6 percent in 2000 compared with 1999, due to an oversupply of the fruit in international markets, the Corporation for the Promotion of Exports and Imports (CORPEI) said in a report. Ecuador exported 180.7 million boxes of bananas in 2000 compared with 202.1 million boxes exported in 1999, according to figures provided by CORPEI. The nation took in $707.9 million from banana sales in 2000, compared with $923.1 million a year earlier. The oversupply of the fruit in international markets led the Ecuadorean government to slash banana prices in April to $2.18 per box from $2.45. The nation's Agricultural and Foreign Trade Ministers set the 2001 price at $2.90 per box on December 29.
Ecuador, the world's biggest banana producer, ships the fruit mainly to the U.S., Russia, Italy and Germany. After oil, bananas are the Andean nation's biggest export. In 1999, Ecuador's banana exports surged 23.4 percent after storms caused by the climactic phenomenon known as El Nino ravaged the nation's coast in 1998, destroying key crops like bananas.
The CORPEI said Ecuador's banana exporters are seeking to expand into other areas, such as dried banana and plantain chips
, known in Ecuador as "chifles." Likewise, the nation plans to take advantage of the European Union's new banana import policy that awards contracts
to countries based on which boats get to port first. European nations previously bought bananas on a quota system until the World Trade Organization ruled that this scheme was unfair to nations like Ecuador.