As an independent succeeding in a category dominated by multinationals, Banacol is marking its 30th year of exporting bananas.

Banacol marks three decades

The Miami-based Banacol Marketing Corp. is celebrating it anniversary by affixing special stickers to its bananas for shipments through the fall.

Formerly selling other growers’ fruit to larger buyers, Banacol has become Colombia’s leading banana producer and the country’s biggest exporter of plantains, according to company officials.

Bill Sheridan, executive vice president of sales and marketing, said the company, owned by Colombia-based C.I. Banacol S.A., has much to offer produce buyers.

“It’s a fundamental of marketing to be able to provide something customers want and use,” he said. “We see more and more opportunity for companies wanting to go with a company that can provide some things a little different than the bigger companies and bring a little bit different than a cookie-cutter approach to everything.

“We really see that continuing to grow each year as more and more customers look for something different in those areas we can provide. We can provide the same quality as the multinationals. Customers have seen that year after year and feel a lot more comfortable with Banacol as we gain credibility in being an independent.”

Sheridan pointed to Banacol offering private label bananas, hosting in-store events as well as tailoring sales to retailer’s special needs.

He said such flexibility is becoming more of a necessity for companies to differentiate themselves in the marketplace.

Banacol Colombia’s 2004 purchase of Chiquita’s Colombian plantains and port operations helped turn Banacol into a larger company, Sheridan said.

Banacol is also a major supplier of tropical fruit and pineapples.

In 1983, Banacol began selling bananas in the U.S. under the Banacol brand and a couple of years later, began transporting fruit in pallets and started a Costa Rican operation.

Banacol began selling fruit into Europe in 1988 and in 1995, focused all of its U.S. imports on Eddystone, Pa.

The grower-importer also began direct marketing of its plantains to the U.S. in 2000.

Banacol celebrated its anniversary through a small function with some of its customers during the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit 2010 in Orlando, Fla.

The company also had a celebration in Colombia.