Commodities & Metals

Where the World's Bananas Come From

Julio Ricco / iStock via Getty Images

There are over 1,000 different varieties of bananas, but the long yellow banana that nearly all Americans are familiar with is the Cavendish variety. It is the world’s most popular banana variety by far, primarily due to its resistance to disease and higher yield per hectare. When you head to the produce section at your local grocery store, you are almost certainly buying Cavendish bananas. And these fruits are a wise purchase, indeed.

The banana is a super healthy berry (yes, it is actually a berry!). Healthline notes that one banana contains 26% of the recommended daily value (DV) of Vitamin B6, 12% of the DV of Vitamin C, 8% of the DV of magnesium, and 7% of the DV of potassium. Bananas also contain prebiotics which aid digestive health and they feature high levels of polyphenols and phytosterols, which are plant compounds that support overall health. Bananas are also low in calories and have no cholesterol, sodium, or fat.

Oh, and let’s not forget that bananas are quite tasty, too! It’s no wonder that, according to the International Fresh Produce Association, bananas are the most popular fruit in the U.S. The average American eats 27 pounds of bananas each year. By comparison, a typical American eats around 15 pounds of apples per year.

Bananas are grown in 135 different countries according to Michigan State University. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reports that 5,940,149 hectares worldwide were used in banana cultivation in 2022, producing a global total of 135,112,326,37 tons of bananas.

U.S. Bananas

Dole Plantation
Source: Alexandre.ROSA / Shutterstock.com
The Dole Plantation grows bananas in Oahu.

Hawaii is the only state that grows bananas commercially in the United States, though there are independent banana farms in a handful of other states. The U.S. is barely within the world’s top 100 banana-producing countries. Obviously, this means almost all of the bananas that Americans gobble up each year are imported from other nations. In fact, bananas are the most exported fruit in the world.

Here is a look at the top ten countries for banana production. 24/7 Wall St. used production data provided by the FAO for this story. Economic and export data was provided by the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC).

The production, export, and economic numbers are all from 2022 as this is the most recent data available from both the FAO and OEC. The nations on this list are ranked from tenth to first place in terms of total banana production.

10. United Republic of Tanzania

Wildlife in Tanzania
Source: ugurhan / Getty Images
Tanzania is an East African country with amazing wildlife.
  • Annual Banana Production: 3,500,800.33 tons

Tanzanian Banana Exports

Tanzania Banana market
Source: Runjiv / Wikimedia Commons
Bananas are important to the Tanzanian culture and economy.

Tanzania exported $1.02M worth of bananas in 2022. The main destinations for Tanzanian banana exports were Zambia ($486k), Malawi ($371k), Germany ($46.5k), Kenya ($41.3k), and Burundi ($33.7k).

9. Angola

Kalandula falls in Angola
Source: gabrielsarabando / iStock via Getty Images
Angola is a beautiful country in southern Africa.
  • Annual Banana Production: 4,589,099 tons

Angolan Banana Exports

Women carrying bananas in Luanda, Angola
Source: Giulia.corradini / Wikimedia Commons
Bananas have to get to market in the capital city of Angola, even if there is a traffic jam.

In 2022, Angola exported $6.78M worth of bananas. Most of those Angolan banana exports were sent to Portugal ($6.22M), with far smaller amounts going to the Republic of the Congo ($457k), France ($35.5k), Panama ($25.2k), and the Democratic Republic of the Congo ($14.8k).

(Along with its impressive banana cultivation, Angola also has one of the most powerful militaries in Africa. Here is a look at the 38 strongest African militaries.)

8. Guatemala

Semuc Champey natural swimming pools, Guatemala.
Source: hbrizard / Getty Images
Guatemala is a tropical nation in Central America.
  • Annual Banana Production: 4,762,666.77 tons

Guatemalan Banana Exports

Chiquita banana label, Guatemala
Source: Courtesy of Mike Edmisten via 24/7 Wall St.
The U.S. imports more bananas from Guatemala than any other nation.

Guatemala exported $1.12B worth of bananas in 2022, the vast majority of which were shipped to the United States. The U.S. imports more bananas from Guatemala than any other nation, with an annual value of $1.01B. Other much smaller destinations for Guatemalan banana exports include Canada ($19.5M), the United Kingdom ($12.7M), Poland ($12.2M), and the Netherlands ($9.68M).

7. The Philippines

Mountain road views on the roads in and around Baguio City Philippines in Northern Luzon region
Source: Johnny Warrior / Getty Images
The Philippines is located in Southeast Asia.
  • Annual Banana Production: 5,899,704.79 tons

Filipino Banana Exports

Stacks of bananas in the Philippines
Source: E911a / Wikimedia Commons
Bananas must be carefully transported to Filipino markets so they don’t bruise.

In 2022, the Philippines exported $1.41B in Bananas. Most of those bananas were exported to Japan ($653M), China ($406M), South Korea ($197M), Saudi Arabia ($22.9M), and Hong Kong ($21.2M).

6. Ecuador

Cloud forest in Ecuador
Source: Kalistratova / Getty Images
Over half of Ecuador’s continental territory is covered by native forests.
  • Annual Banana Production: 6,078,788.71 tons

Ecuadoran Banana Exports

Ecuador banana farms and plantations inside greenhouses. Banana grass grown on an industrial scale. Palm trees with bunches of fruits ripening for sale on the market
Source: aappp / Shutterstock.com
Plantations such as this one are why Ecuador is the world’s leading banana exporter.

Ecuador is the sixth-largest banana producer in the world, but it is the largest exporter of the fruit. Ecuador exported $3.68B worth of bananas in 2022.

The main destinations for Ecuadoran bananas were Russia ($780M), the United States ($561M), the Netherlands ($263M), Turkey ($174M), and Argentina ($155M).

5. Brazil

Brazil's tropical rainforest
Source: FG Trade / Getty Images
The largest area of tropical rainforest on Earth is found in Brazil.
  • Annual Banana Production: 6,854,222 tons

Brazilian Banana Exports

Bananas (Musa) delivery by boat to the banana market in Manaus, Amazonas - Brazil
Source: guentermanaus / Shutterstock.com
The Amazon River is an important means of transport for bananas in Brazil.

Brazil exported $39.9M worth of bananas in 2022. The main destinations of Brazilian bananas were Argentina ($18.8M), Uruguay ($14.7M), the United Kingdom ($2.11M), Slovakia ($1.35M), and Germany ($1.12M).

4. Nigeria

Nigerian flag
Source: Derek Brumby / Getty Images
Nigeria is an African nation situated on the Gulf of Guinea.
  • Annual Banana Production: 8,019,203.34 tons

Nigerian Banana Exports

Man transporting bananas to market, Osun state, Nigeria
Source: Yemi festus / Wikimedia Commons
This farmer uses a motorcycle to transport his bananas to market in Osun, Nigeria.

Most Nigerian bananas are not exported. In 2022, the West African nation only exported $25.3k worth of bananas. Of the bananas that were sent out of the country, most were exported to the United Kingdom ($11.1k), Canada ($8.75k), Georgia ($2.33k), Niger ($1.46k), and the Bahamas ($981).

3. Indonesia

Lagoon in the jungle. Sumatra, Indonesia
Source: davidsuarez82 / Getty Images
Indonesia is an archipelagic nation made up of approximately 17,500 islands.
  • Annual Banana Production: 9,245,427.05 tons

Indonesian Banana Exports

Adult monkeys sits and eating banana fruit in the forest. Monkey forest, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Source: Leo_nik / Shutterstock.com
Lots of Indonesian residents enjoy bananas!

In 2022, Indonesia exported $8.83M worth of bananas. Most of those bananas were sent to Malaysia ($3.3M), Singapore ($1.97M), China ($1.61M), Japan ($1.48M), and Oman ($379k).

2. China

Beautiful modern city scenery at night in Shanghai, China
Source: zhaojiankang / iStock via Getty Images
China is the second-most populous nation in the world.
  • Annual Banana Production: 11,776,800 tons

Chinese Banana Exports

Red River valley between Manhao and Lianhuatan - bananas
Source: User:Vmenkov / Wikimedia Commons
These bananas are awaiting shipment in the Red River valley between Manhao and Lianhuatan.

China exported $23.4M worth of bananas in 2022. The majority of China’s exported bananas were shipped to Hong Kong ($16M), Macau ($2.05M), the United States ($1.77M), Mongolia ($1.55M), and Nigeria ($1.21M).

1. India

Main Bazar late afternoon, Paharganj known for its concentration of hotels, lodges, restaurants, dhabas and a wide variety of shops
Source: hadynyah / E+ via Getty Images
India is the world’s most populous nation.
  • Annual Banana Production: 34,528,000 tons

Indian Banana Exports

Bananas for Sale at Market - Trivandrum - Kerala - India
Source: Adam Jones Adam63 / Wikimedia Commons
The world’s most populated country is also the largest banana producer.

In 2022, India exported $170M worth of bananas. The main destinations for Indian banana exports were Iran ($43.9M), Iraq ($31.4M), the United Arab Emirates ($28M), Oman ($13.7M), and Kuwait ($12.6M). 

Bananas are deeply engrained in the Indian diet and culture. While many Americans only know the Cavendish variety of bananas, a wealth of different varieties are available in India. Bananas are so central to Indian life that nearly all of the nation’s bananas are consumed domestically. Only around one percent of India’s banana harvest is shipped out of the country. You will probably never see an Indian country-of-origin sticker on the bananas at your local supermarket in the U.S.

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