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Windward’s top banana producer visits UK supermarkets

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Tuesday, January 18, 2005 - The Windward’s top banana producer for 2002, St. Lucian William Marius has highlighted the importance of proper packaging and handling of fruit leaving the islands, bound for the UK. Mr. Marius was part of a party of four, who recently undertook a tour of Waitrose Superfoods and import depots in the United Kingdom (UK), to understand the processes, which Caribbean bananas go through before reaching the shelves of supermarkets.

The four, joined by an official of WIBDECO saw first hand, Windward Islands’ bananas on the shelves of Waitrose, one of the largest buyers of the Caribbean fruit. Mr. Marius said that although he was satisfied to see his fruit being bought by UK consumers, the fruit quality could be better.

“When you’re down here you produce a green fruit, and when you look at that fruit in the box you think that is beautiful. But at the end of the day you’re seeing a fruit that you have just picked from the tree put in the box, it is still fresh – you cannot see the after effects of the handling. When you reach on the other side and you see the effects of that fruit then you wonder whether you doing enough down here in order to give the market what it is asking for,” said Mr. Marius.

Assistant Product Manager for WIBDECO, Andrew Hippolyte, who accompanied the team of all St. Lucian winners, said every time the fruit is handled, there is an opportunity for scarring. He said that this was an issue, which for along time now WIBDECO had been attempting to get farmers to understand.
“Everytime the fruit is handled, there is a potential bruise or scarring that could be inflicted on the fruit especially, if the packaging is not right, if the stacking of the fruit is not right, if the packing of the fruit is not righ, “ he pointed out.

The other members of the party included top Windward’s Waitrose Producer for 2004, William Elien, and featured personality on a commercial for the promotion of Caribbean bananas in the UK, Lincoln Henry. The tour of Waitrose took place in December of last year.

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