(Business in Cameroon) - Plantations du Haut Penja (PHP), the local subsidiary of French group Compagnie fruitière de Marseille, exported 42,977 tons of bananas between January and March 2023, data compiled by the Cameroon Banana Association (Assobacam) showed. This makes this sector operator the leader of the market over the period reviewed.
Indeed, PHP alone contributed to 80.3% of the overall 53,513 tons of bananas shipped from Cameroon in Q1 2023. Over the same period last year, the company accounted for 85.3% of banana exports in the country and also dominated the market, despite the return of state-owned Cameroon Development Corporation (CDC), the former market leader. As a reminder, the public company had to suspend its activities between September 2018 and June 2020, due to the crisis in the NoSo regions, where it has all of its plantations.
Although since its return to the market, CDC has seen its export volumes up (from 4,541 tons in Q1 2022 to 7,289 tons, for example), the company continues to suffer the impacts of the crisis. On February 10, five CDC employees died when separatists ambushed their truck.
Meanwhile, PHP enjoys a less competitive market. This company has most of its plantations in the Littoral region, especially in the departments of Moungo and Sanaga Maritime. Even at its southwestern plantations, operations have not been as disrupted as at CDC's. Local media said this is because the company has strengthened security at its working places. However, its packaging unit in the region had been set on fire during the night of July 14-15, 2018 in the locality of Tiko.
The lull around the activities of PHP, unlike the difficulties of the CDC whose employees claim several months of unpaid wages, not only allows it to consolidate its leadership in the local banana market but also to reap significant revenues. Since January 2022, PHP exports have become much more profitable. Indeed, the only Fairtrade-certified banana producer in Cameroon (since 2013, ed) benefits from the decision taken by the Fairtrade International certification body to revise upwards the minimum prices charged in banana exporting countries involved in its fair trade system.
Per this decision, the minimum price of exports increases from €8.75 to €9.3 per standard box (18.14 kg), when the producer is also the exporter (FOB price); and from €6.45 to €6.8 (EXW price), when the producer goes through intermediaries to ensure its exports.
Translated from French by Firmine AIZAN
Written by Brice R. Mbodiam