The Price Of Bananas Causes Sticker Shock

Consumers have been priced into submission by rising inflation that Politico reported hit a new 40-year high in June 2022. Unfortunately for fruit lovers, the beloved tropical fruit is not immune to inflated costs.

Bananas were dealing with a pandemic of their own long before the Coronavirus became a global health crisis. According to Science, Panama disease (fusarium wilt) is a plant-killing fungus that was first detected in Indonesia in the 1960s. The disease has since endangered banana crops at plantations in countries worldwide. Scientists hope to make a genetically modified Cavendish banana that is resistant to the fungus available in 2023.

Despite the devastation that the fungus causes, other issues have contributed to the high price of bananas over the past few years. Thomas Insights attributes the more recent rising cost of groceries to labor and truck driver shortages, supply chain issues, and increased consumer demand caused and exacerbated by the Coronavirus pandemic. Eat This, Not That! associated decreased banana stock — along with other fresh produce — to the war in Ukraine and the increased cost of fertilizer.

Banana prices have jumped

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average cost of bananas hovered at $0.57 for most of 2019 and 2020, with small fluctuations of one cent here and there. As shutdowns and labor shortages caused by the pandemic began to set in, The Produce News shared that Fresh Del Monte (a top provider of bananas) caved to inflated production costs and raised prices on the favored fruit in late 2021. From January to December of 2021, the price of bananas went from $0.59 to $0.62, that's an eye-popping 5% increase.

Banana prices steadily increased by 1.6% from January to June of 2022, and produce lovers have taken note. According to a Food Industry Association report, 92% of shoppers have changed their produce purchasing habits by opting for frozen or canned fruits and veggies, and are no longer turning their noses up to imperfect produce (via Grocery Dive). Consumers may be bypassing the produce aisle – or at the very least skipping the bananas – until inflation lets up and prices even out.