Bananas stay top of the tree Bananas still remain the UK's most popular fruit, according to David Read, chairman of the Banana Promotion Group, which represents the major importers and ripeners, The industry will have to wait for another month or so for its annual trade figures for 1999 from a variety of sources. Read was optimistic that these might reach 770,000 tonnes. It would represent a slight increase on the previous year. "While this might not be as significant as some of the major improvements which have led to the market doubling since 1983, the upward trend is continuing," he added. While value for money was a key aspect in banana retailing, Read stressed that "price within reason is still a secondary and tertiary consideration with consumers". Importers have also responded by adding value through the growth of small and organic bananas and self ripening packs. Read added that after an earlier period this year when there had been heavier supplies of fruit from Central American sources leading to lower prices, the long-term crop forecast overall this summer indicated the market was back in balance with sufficient quality fruit. Wholesale prices at present are in the region of £12-£13 for an 18kg carton. {{FRESH PRODUCE }}