A Short History of the Icelandic Banana Industry,
While Iceland is certainly not known for being a producer of the delicious tropical fruit, at one time the island south of the Arctic circle had a thriving banana industry. Being an island in the North Atlantic, Iceland is very dependent on foreign imports. However, during World War II shipments of fresh fruit and vegetables came to a halt due to wartime food shortages and the risk of U-Boat attacks.
Like most people living during World War II, the Icelanders had to learn to either do without or improvise with what they had. The invention and discovery of cheap geothermal power helped provide a solution to the shortages. In 1940 a number of facilities consisting of geothermal heated greenhouses were constructed in order to grow fresh fruit and vegetables. Among the first crop was a pod of bananas, the first of which was harvested in 1941. Production of Icelandic bananas was slow at first, due to lack of sunlight Icelandic bananas take two years to grow and mature. Near the equator they only take a few months. However by 1945 Iceland had developed a banana industry that was large enough to meet the demand of the island.
After World War II the Icelandic banana industry continued to thrive due to high import costs of fruit. In 1960 the Icelandic government removed import tariffs for fruit. The Icelandic banana industry quickly collapsed as cheap and abundant foreign bananas flooded the market. Today, bananas are still grown in Iceland, although only by a few greenhouse owners. The Agricultural University of Iceland also operates a greenhouse with 600-700 banana plants.