Fuelling our love of bananas

Chances are the banana sliced into your breakfast this morning, or the banana blitzed for your afternoon smoothie, was imported through Lyttelton Port.

MG Marketing is the exclusive importer, distributor and marketer of Dole Fresh Produce.

Every year, the grower-owned co-operative imports 162,000 cartons of snack-sized Bobby Bananas, 139,000 cartons of pineapples and 9,500 cartons of papaya from the Philippines aboard a cargo vessel, which is unloaded in Lyttelton’s inner harbour.

Banana clusters, the regular-sized bananas bunches you buy from the supermarket, are also imported from Ecuador through LPC’s container terminal.

There’s an art to bringing the fruit New Zealander’s love to our supermarket and produce shop shelves, and that’s where MG Marketing’s expert team comes in.

Bananas arrive in New Zealand green and are transported from to MG’s purpose-built banana ripening facilities in Hornby.

MG Marketing Sales Representative and Banana Ripening Expert, Matt House, says the bananas undergo strict quarantine testing by the Ministry for Primary Industries before they are stacked in different banana ripening rooms.

There’s a banana ripening scale from green bananas (1) right through to (7) which is the sweetest, ripest banana you can get.

Matt says most bananas you see are about a 4 or 4.5 in terms of ripeness.

“The bananas take between five and seven days to ripen in our temperature-controlled ripening rooms, and we always stagger the ripening to ensure there are enough bananas to supply market demand.”

The banana that enter Lyttleton Port not only supply the Canterbury market but the rest of the South Island from Dunedin to Invercargill, right up to Nelson.

Dole produces fruits of the highest quality and is highly committed to preserving the environment. From the farm, all the way to the point of consumption and beyond, they are committed to sustainable, environmentally practices.

All Dole pineapples from the Philippines and Ecuadorian bananas are Rainforest Alliance Certified™ which means they support a healthy environment, promote the well-being of workers and their communities and use efficient farm methods.

Dole bananas that arrive in Christchurch from Equador also feature the new seal, earned by farms that meet comprehensive standards for sustainability, while bananas imported from the Phillippines are going through the accreditation process.

Asked why New Zealanders love bananas so much, Matt thinks our love of the outdoors has a lot to do with it.

“Bananas are a really healthy food, a lot of sportspeople eat them as a snack on the go, and a lot of different cultures use green bananas and sweet bananas in many different dishes.”

Matt says the operation always operates with the environment in mind, with efforts to reduce waste paramount.

“If we do happen to have a small amount of waste, this goes to a local farmer, and the banana boxes are always reused – people love banana boxes for storage and packing.”

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