Deal on European tariffs after 20-year dispute should make our favourite fruit cheaper, reports the London Guardian.
“Banana war ends!” read happy headlines last week, summoning bizarre mental images for this banana fan, unaware such a war ever raged. I pictured whole bunches fired from cannon, sundried chips raining from bomber jets, soldiers in close combat, Cavendish to Cavendish…
Actually this was a trade dispute, the resolution of a 20-year argument between Latin American banana producers and the EU, which had traditionally been supportive of post-colonial growers in Africa and the Caribbean, letting them import their bananas into Europe duty free. Last Thursday, having lobbied and made legal threats since the early 1990s, Latin American producers finally won a concession from the European parliament. Import tariffs for the region will drop by more than a third over the next six years. Industry experts expect this to translate into a price drop in bananas at consumer level.
No wonder headlines were ebullient: nothing gets the Brits excited like a banana. A defining Edwardian luxury, the banana has not lost its beloved national status in more than a century. It is still the UK’s biggest-selling food item, with more than three billion chomped down every year.
Why do we love them so? Opinion differs. They’re nutritionally superb, but so is plenty of lesser-selling fruit. For years bananas have had a priceless sporting endorsement, what with tennis players eating them at Wimbledon.
Perhaps it’s just that the banana is so self-contained: complete within its own organic wrapper, thoughtful enough to brown when it needs to be eaten. Or maybe it’s the appeal – weapon-loving colonialists that we are deep down – of this fruit being shaped like a gun, one that can be privately waved around when nobody’s looking. Whatever it is – the banana war has ended! Enjoy a few pence off future banana purchases as this new era of peace begins.
For the original report go to http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/feb/06/banana-trade-latin-america-europe