The United Fruit Company in Latin America

By Stacy May; Galo Plaza | Go to book overview

IV.
Banana Production and Producers' Revenue THE MOVEMENT OF BANANAS over the oceans to North

American entry ports and from St. John, New York, Baltimore, Charleston, Mobile, New Orleans, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle to consumers throughout the United States and Canada has been described. We broke down the average consumer's price of 17.2¢ a pound in 1955 among the several main steps in the distribution chain. In doing so, we found that the f.o.b. value to countries of shipment amounted to a little under 53 percent of the importer's selling price of 8.73¢ in North America, and to about 27 percent of the consumer's banana dollar.

In general, Latin American bananas consigned to Europe were worth about 1.35¢ more per pound than North American shipments upon an f.o.b. basis, largely because the European fruit must be cut at a lighter, less mature stage in order to survive the longer sea voyage. Yet the cost of growing and handling these light stems is virtually the same as that of the heavier stems consigned to the North American market. Thus we have estimated the average weight per stem of all North American imports in 1955 at a trifle over 72 pounds against an average weight per stem for European imports of 35 pounds.1 Much of this weight disparity results from Europe's heavy dependence upon supply areas where bananas are grown under conditions and agricultural practices far inferior to those in Latin America. A better measure of the distance-from-market factor upon weight is found in the record of United Fruit Company shipments to the two markets. In 1955, United's shipments from Latin American countries to North America averaged 79.1 pounds per stem, while its European shipments from the same area averaged 49.7 pounds per stem, or about 37 percent lighter. Most, though not all, of this is attributable to the differences in the maturity stage of the fruit cut for the respective markets.


THE PRODUCING COUNTRIES

PRODUCTION OPERATIONS will be examined on the basis largely of our firsthand study of banana culture in the six coun-

____________________
1
Based on data given in Table 5, Chapter II.

-73-

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