The United Fruit Company in Latin America

By Stacy May; Galo Plaza | Go to book overview

V.
The United Fruit Company as an Integrated Operation

AS A FORERUNNER to detailed analysis of United Fruit's specific operations, we have set forth a description of how the world banana trade is organized, the volume of investment committed to it, the amount of the annual return from the banana exports, and how this return is divided between those responsible for the many steps in the long production-distribution chain. In putting together a picture that seems never before to have been assembled in other than very fragmentary terms, we have been forced to fill in numerous gaps in the existing record by projecting from our firsthand study of the North American market, of the United Fruit Company's accounts, and of banana operations in our six Middle American countries.

Each of these sources of relatively complete and reliable information covers a segment of the world banana trade sufficiently large to assure that estimates of the whole based upon it will not be too wide of the mark. Thus, the North American market provides a sample that in 1955 represented 54 percent of world banana imports for that year. The United Fruit Company handled about 59 percent of the banana stems imported by North America1 and about 28 percent of all stems reported as moving in world trade. And the six countries in which we made detailed studies of production operations accounted for about 60 percent of the year's world banana exports.

Our accountancy for the overall world trade will be distorted to the degree that the operations on which we could assemble reliable data are not thoroughly representative of the remainder. Although this qualification must be frankly stated, we are confident that the generalized account does represent a substantially accurate picture of the market as a whole. We believe that our samples are sufficiently large and the cross-checks for consistency that we have been able to make sufficiently numerous, both with respect to the data we ourselves gathered and to other published official data, to offer this assurance. At the very least, we can certify that our breakdowns accurately re-

____________________
1
If Canadian imports are segregated, the company's share of U. S. stem imports was slightly lower--about 56 percent.

-103-

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