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Going bananas

BananaBananas are the world’s most popular fruit after tomatoes. In western countries, they could account for 3% of a grocer’s total sales. Bananas consistently are the number one compliant of grocery shoppers. Most people complain when bananas are overripe or even freckled. The fact is that spotted bananas are sweeter, with a sugar content of more than 20%, compared with 3% in a green banana.

As if fighting with their consumers over bananas is not enough big retailers often turn on each other. In 2002, Asda-Walmart fired the first, uhm, banana in a price war with big British supermarket chain Tesco and others. The gorilla war (which includes guerrilla war tactics) would spill over onto other battle shelves and – even after a trade truce in 2009 – the price war is ongoing.

Banana Trade War

The banana war didn’t begin or end there. The biggest banana complaint desk is the World Trade Organization (WTO). Starting in 1975 but eventually turning into the so-called Banana War in 1991, the United States peeled the gloves off to go up against the European Union, whose citizens go ape for the yellow wonder. The EU imports more than 3 billion tonnes annually… but that is less than the United States.

This is not even half of the story. The Banana War eventually spilled over into Italian cheese, German coffee, French handbags and Scottish cashmere trade disputes. The gorillas refused to turn yellow and although the white flags reached half-mast in 2001 and in 2005, no-one came down their herb. (The banana plant is not a tree; it actually is a giant herb.)  The banana war became the longest trade dispute in history, ending only in 2009 after 16 years.

Banana Wars with Real Live Ammo

Bananas obviously is no monkey business. The Banana Republics were called such because of the hideous Banana Wars (not to be confused with the mention Banana Trade War), starting in the 1920s, in which thousands of innocent people died needlessly in the so-called American imperialism effort. It is now known in fair detail how big banana firms sponsored right-wing militias. Further reading on CorpWatch and Latin American Studies.

The Beautiful Banana

Fortunately, there is a very nice side to every banana. To get to the root of the not-so-humble banana as a beautiful tasty thingy, take a bite at banana.com. Keep in mind, though, that, true to the banana tradition, some of the serving is spotted.

Savor this: the banana is not the world’s most popular fruit! That title belongs to what the French used to call “the apple of love” and the Germans “the apple of paradise” – the mighty tomato.

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