Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Plantains slow to gain larger market share

Excerpts from The Packer article of 4/28/08
by Jim Offner

Tropical fruit marketers say plantains - known in some circles as "cooking bananas" - still haven't gained much momentum outside their traditional Hispanic markets.

"I don't see plantains as an alternative to bananas, in the traditional sense," said Mary Ostlund, marketing director for Brooks Tropicals, which brings in plantains from Ecuador, Costa Rica and Guatemala. "It's basically a product that the Hispanic markets use."

Plantains have a subtler flavor than bananas, Ostlund said.

Most consumers have stayed loyal to the traditional cavendish banana, she said.

"They know bananas," she said. "But, if you're in the market and plantains is what you know and love, and a lot of people do, they want to see plantains on your shelves."

Brooks tries to keep plantains available year-round, Ostlund said.

"They're seasonal, but we're able to basically smooth out the seasons because we have growers in different areas," she said.