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Ask Laz: Not-so-mellow yellow: Is there a monopoly on bananas?

If it seems that there's little variation in banana prices, there's a reason for that.
(Amy Sancetta / Associated Press)

Dave says that no matter what store or supermarket he goes to, the price of bananas is always the same -- about 69 cents a pound.

“Is there a monopoly on bananas?” he asks.

Well, there aren’t a lot of suppliers.

ASK LAZ: Smart answers to consumer questionsBananas are in the news as Chiquita Brands International and two Brazilian companies prepare to tie the knot.

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Cutrale Group, a wholesale orange juice producer, and Safra Group, a holding company, announced this week that they’ll pay about $680 million to acquire Chiquita and take it private.

Chiquita, Dole Food Co., Fresh Del Monte and Ireland’s Fyffes account for about 80% of the more than 160 billion pounds of bananas sold each year. The United States is the largest importer of bananas.

So it’s not surprising that Dave and others would see little variation in banana prices around town.

When only a handful of companies are supplying a product, prices tend not to vary much.

If you have a consumer question, email me at asklaz@latimes.com or contact me via Twitter: @Davidlaz.


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