A tiny part of LogisticS behind BananaS
The world of logistics is a factor to which bananas are inevitably connected.
In fact the quality of most foods available on the market depends also on the quality of transport.
Last year we put the Suez channel precisely on the map. The incident with the Evergreen vessel showed us the logistics behind all goods. Definitely the Suez channel incident has been an eye-opener to us. It may have made us realize how difficult it is to reach an accurate procedure in terms of logistics. A procedure to which Ecuadorian bananas sold in Europe are also subjected since they cross the Panama Canal.
So, which is the exact route that bananas follow on its way from Ecuador to Europe?
Bananas are usually transported in container vessels. These types of vessels are the most popular to transport goods all around the world. Because containers simplify the transport process. They have a standard size and can be easily transferred between truck and ship as bananas require. And as we have already seen in our BananitaBlog every inch of a cargo container space is filled with all kinds of goods (The stowage plan).
But before being loaded onto the vessel bananas need other means of transport
- From the plantation to the packing house (find out here the packing process):
They are transferred by a cable system known as “sistema de poleas” (a video about it) .
- From the packing houses to the containers:
Bananas grown by small farmers located in hard to reach areas, might need to be loaded onto a horse or a donkey to reach the carrier truck.
In those farms with bigger facilities, banana boxes are directly loaded into a carrier truck.
- From the carrier truck to the vessel:
Banana containers travel by truck to the ports. Here they are finally loaded onto the vessel that will reach the final destination.
However, although it looks pleasant to travel by sea, here begins the longest part of the journey (for instance, it takes more than 20 days to travel from Ecuador to Sweden). Furthermore , the greatest logistical difficulties are presented in this step since the volume of goods handled by ports is immense. Moreover, the pandemic and the invasion of Ukraine have made it even more difficult for the maritime transport of goods and the whole logistical chain.
In Ecuador our bananas can leave from three different ports: Puerto Bolivar, Puerto de Guayaquil or Puerto de Posorja.
The nearest port from our plantations is Puerto Bolivar. This port is smaller than the other ones. Therefore, vessels that leave from this port are called “lecheras”. So, when a vessel lechera arrives at Guayaquil, the load is transferred into a bigger vessel that will get bananas across the pond.
Once the containers are already on the vessel that will cross the Atlantic to Europe, how about now?
Ecuador’s coastline is bathed by the Pacific ocean. Do bananas have to get off the boat and drive across to the other side?.
Fortunately since 1914 an engineering marvel has facilitated the transport of goods between the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic: the Panama Canal (which also made famous the Ecuadorian straw hats worldly known as Panama hats).
The Panama Canal has hence remarkably improved the transport of bananas between Ecuador and Europe making logistics easier.
Its length of 77 km allows vessels to save more than 12.000 km from a journey around the southern tip of South America, Cape Horn. Around 12.000 vessels cross it every year.
In a nutshell, our Ecuadorian bananas travel to Europe through the Panama Canal. A direct route from Ecuador to Panama, then crossing the Atlantic and finally reaching its Port of discharge or POD in Europe. Complex but straightforward ;-).