© Nathanphoto |ecuador fruit
Ecuador's fruit export markets are changing © Nathanphoto

Kuehne + Nagel is giving Panalpina a run for its money with the acquisition of an Ecuadorean perishables company, Panatlantic Logistics.

A specialist in the air transport of flowers and fruits, with K+N it will have combined volumes of 32,000 tons each year out of Ecuador.

K+N said the acquisition would “strengthen its  position in the export market to the US, Europe and the Asia Pacific region”.

Panatlantic is based in Quito and has a temperature-controlled warehouse at the airport. K+N will control 120,000 tons of air exports from its operations in the region, including Colombia, Peru, Brazil and Chile.

“By acquiring this specialised player, Kuehne + Nagel consolidates its leading position in one of South America’s key perishables export markets, and, at the same time, considerably strengthens its position in the regional airfreight markets,” said Ingo Goldhammer, K+N, president South and Central American region.

Ecuador has seen significant changes to its market in recent years. Last year saw its lowest ever volume of banana exports to the US, which in 2010, accounted for 21% of its production.

Productivity has increased, and Europe, Russia and the Middle East are now the largest importers of Ecuadorian fruit.

According to the Association of Banana Exporters of Ecuador, Ecuador has the most expensive bananas in the region, due to low local productivity compared with other countries, the cost of freight, which can take up to 18 days, and transit of the Panama Canal, reports FreshFruitPlaza. The three main fruit companies that operate in the region have found better markets outside Ecuador as a result.

But reporting its financial results this week,  Del Monte chairman Mohammad Abu-Ghazaleh, said the European banana market had slumped in the second quarter.

“It is really something that we cannot comprehend, it’s probably because of Ecuador.

“Ecuador shipped a lot more fruit during the second quarter into Europe, all over the place, that had really affected prices drastically, all of a sudden. Just like overnight, prices dropped and never recovered,” he said.

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