The global organic banana market is growing rapidly and could account for three per cent of sales in the next three years, the United Nations food body said on Wednesday.
"Assuming a continuing worldwide annual supply growth of 65 percent, an organic share of three per cent in global banana markets could be reached within three years," the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said in a report.
In the United States and Canada, organic bananas account for just 0.5 percent of total banana consumption, FAO said in the study entitled "The market for 'organic' and 'fair-trade' bananas".
In the EU, organic banana sales of some 40,000 tonnes represent one percent of total banana turnover.
The main supplier of organic bananas has been the Dominican Republic. In 2000 its exports totalled some 44,000 tonnes, an 80 percent increase over 1999, exceeding exports of conventional bananas and accounting for more than half the global supply of organic bananas.
The report said that for the past seven years demand for organic products had been to some extent driven by food scares.
Retail prices for organic products are relatively high. Depending on the market, price premiums for bananas (CIF) may vary from 30 per cent (EU) to 80 per cent (Japan).
The annual growth rate of organic banana sales in the EU has been estimated at 80 per cent in the last two years, FAO said.
Britain replaced Germany in 2000 as the largest European market for organic bananas.
An important limiting factor for the growth of organic banana sales has been limited supply, but this is likely to change rapidly as large-scale plantations enter the organic market and new countries start growing organic bananas, FAO said.