Here is the final stage of the banana processing plant that I have been showing this week. Workers are taking bunches of bananas wrapped in plastic from the trays on the conveyor and are packing them into boxes for export.
When shoppers buy bananas they are not in plastic bags. My guess is that the bananas are floated in water in the packaging plant and are packed in plastic bags to reduce the opportunity for insects to travel with the bananas from the tropics to the destination.
Bananas are native to Asia and were introduced in Central American in the late 1800's. The United Fruit Company has historically been a major force in the economy and politics of Costa Rica and other Central American countries. The photos I have shown this week show that working conditions in the plant look pretty good. That has not always been the case, and there have been major labor disputes due to the poor treatment of workers in the past.
After outbreaks of diseases in the 1930's and 1940's and labor unrest in the banana plantations in the Caribbean region of Costa Rica, United Fruit abandoned its Caribbean operations and moved its plantations to southwestern Costa Rica. After a 72-day strike in 1985, United Fruit ceased growing bananas in the Pacific side of Costa Rica.
Today, many of the bananas are grown by agricultural cooperatives and sold to the banana companies. The processing plant shown in my photos this week supplies more than one company. Today's photo shows boxes for export by Del Monte, but we also saw empty boxes being stored with the labels of other companies, so the plant on other days must do packaging for other companies.