From container ship to Centre Court



The humble banana has been the source of much controversy during Wimbledon this year. From British Number 1 Heather Watson suffering lock jaw trying to eat one, to banana breakfasts being blamed for Murray’s early exit – they are a regular sight on centre court and now a new poll has revealed them to be our favourite fruit.

A survey of one thousand people across the UK – commissioned by charity Seafarers UK – has revealed a third of people (35.5 per cent) have voted bananas are the imported fruit they can’t live without.

The banana is the UK’s biggest food import – with 1.1 million tonnes imported in 2013 – the equivalent weight of 95,000 London buses. Half the food eaten in the UK is imported and, of this, a staggering 95 per cent comes by ship.

According to tennis experts, it was Martina Navratilova who turned bananas into the ultimate tennis food. In 1982 the Czech star was struggling to reach her full potential when she met nutritionist, Robert Haas, who put her on a low-fat, high-carb diet involving bland pasta and bananas. Haas believed they were ‘better than Gatorade’. Navratilova won 102 of her next 104 matches.

Murray won his first grand slam crown, the 2012 US Open, at the age of 25, meaning that by that point of his career he had consumed well over the equivalent of 8,914 bananas.

As an island nation, the UK relies on merchant shipping for 95 per cent of its imports and 75 per cent of exports. The UK’s sea ports handle over half a billion tonnes of goods a year* with 1.5 million seafarers employed in the global shipping industry, of which 71,310** are from the UK. Our most valuable food export is chocolate – with £571m exported every year by sea.

Barry Bryant, Director General of Seafarers UK, said: “The maritime industry is one of the oldest in the world and today remains the number one means of importing vital food into the UK, from bananas to bacon, brie to Brazil nuts. Yet shockingly our research found that a third of us think seafarers are less important today than 100 years ago.

“It is a concern that people do not understand how much seafarers do for us. Not just importing food and other goods, but also exporting UK-made produce, keeping shipping lanes open and protecting the UK’s interests at home and abroad.”