Banana maths – a Northland banana industry?

What would a Northland Banana Industry be worth to the local economy? Bananas are starting to appear regularly at the Whangarei Growers Market.

Consumption per person per year (kgs)[1] 18
Northland population[2] 171,400
Total banana consumption (kgs) 3,085,200
Price per kilo[3] $2.99
Total cost of bananas consumed in Northland $9,244,748

There are many variables to consider to refine these numbers, but they act as a reference point.

Bananas at home

Earlier studies reveal that produce grown locally rather than imported into the region (and country in this case) create a 2 to 4 times multiplier in both jobs and dollars. The report, The Social and Economic Impact of the Whangarei Growers Market identified the multiplier at 2.99. This work was done by economist Dr Warren Hughes.

So let’s be conservative and aim to supply 10% of Northland’s bananas, 300,000 kgs or 300 tonnes by 2025. The nearby Auckland market could probably take all we could produce.

Targeted production (kgs) 300,000
Price per kilo $4.00
Total cost of Northland produced bananas $1,200,000
Multiplier 3
Value of the Northland banana industry $3,600,000

Currently, local bananas are selling for more like $8.00 a kilo, but as production increases we can anticipate the price reducing – so these estimates are conservative.

Realising this $3.6 million industry would be challenging. Bananas required frost free locations. They can handle light infrequent frosts and surely we have plenty of microclimates where we could grow them. It would also require a significant number of banana plants to be propagated. Perhaps tissue culture is a solution.

The other requirement would be for roughly 10% of Northlanders to buy Northland bananas exclusively – this is an appealing challenge, because it provides an opportunity to support the local industry and to access a product that is much healthier.


[1] Bananas top the list of Trolley items. (26.02.2017) Kirsty Wynn. NZ Herald. Retrieved http://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/news/article.cfm?c_id=6&objectid=11805447

[2] Northland Region. Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northland_Region. Population at June 2016

[3] Sourced from Countdown online on 5 March 2017. https://shop.countdown.co.nz/#url=/Shop/SearchProducts%3Fsearch%3Dbanana%2Bfresh

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