Late last year it was announced that the shareholders of Fyffes, which is Belize’s largest purchaser of bananas, had approved a takeover bid made by Japanese group Sumitomo Corporation. According to reports, the deal gained the approval of 99.9 per cent of investors during a vote at the Ballsbridge Hotel in Dublin, with executive chairman David McCann saying the agreement should be finalised in February, assuming it gains regulatory approval. Currently, the Sumitomo Group imports approximately 30 per cent of the bananas into the Japanese market. But will Belize be part of this picture? Agriculture Minister Godwin Hulse told the media yesterday that Sumitomo would make a mistake to take Belize out of the equation.
Godwin Hulse – Minister of Agriculture
“As far as I know so far the discussion is ongoing the people who are in Fyffe’s I’m not sure they are going to move over but they are still there for a time we don’t know yet finally how Sumitomo is going to manage that, whether they are going to own the Fyffe’s or keep it or manage it they are tire people and all sorts of people and we are hoping for the best in that the CEO met with some of the Fyffe’s representatives in London and they didn’t think that anything significant would change, we are hoping it wouldn’t. In any case, I have to leave you with the thought that you know in Belize we produce the best of everything no matter what it is, even the negatives we do produce the best of those like the Belize breeze as they say. We have the sweetest citrus I am told, we have the best banana, we have the best mahogany when we had it and so forth. I don’t have any fear that Belize banana is just going to drop away. Nobody will match the product that we have and I still have the confidence that Fyffes is not just going to be dissolved and I also have the confidence that Sumitomo even though we have not spoken with them is not going to be so silly as to suggest goodbye Belize.”
Sumitomo has been active in the banana industry since the 1960s and is the market leader in Asia.