Going Bananas with Supply Chain

What first struck me about the banana planting and production process was how labor intensive it was. What we had to compare this to was the coffee production process. Both are very labor intensive to harvest but the bananas seemed much more strenuous to work with. The workers we saw were extremely efficient at cutting, transporting, and sorting the fruits but these skills must have taken time to develop. The banana industry also faces different threats than the coffee industry. One of the problems facing the banana industry is the extreme lack of biodiversity in the farms. Each of the bananas are genetically the same meaning that an invasive species or a disease could wipe out the entire crop. This was apparent by all the decontamination we had to do before being allowed to enter the farm.

One of the main differences in the supply chain of coffee and bananas is the timeframe that they are working with. For coffee, they are able to store the bean for a long time. Bananas do not have that luxury. There are only about 20 days between the time the bananas are picked to when they would arrive at your local grocery store. This is something that Dole would have to prioritize and make sure that all the parts are moving seamlessly so as to prevent the loss of product to spoiling. Coffee growers would be able to keep a surplus to meet demand changes as well. The bananas seem to be a less sustainable practice than coffee. What struck me first was how much water they use. All of the bananas were thrown into giant tubs to be washed and rinsed and the trees also had a plastic covering on them. Areas that could be improved would be the use of these plastics and also a more efficient system of washing the bananas.

John Boyle

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