News archive

Dutch chain Jumbo joins banana price wars 19.05.2014
The damaging British banana price war has spread, as Banana Link predicted, to continental Europe. Although the second biggest supermarket chain in the Netherlands refuses to accept that it started a price ‘war’ on bananas, all the signs are there. When Jumbo cut the retail price of its conventional bananas late last year to 99 euro cents per kilo, fears that generalised price-cutting could start destroying the value of this already cheap product were confirmed. Other chains like the No.1 Albert Heijn reacted by matching the Jumbo price on part of their range. Other chains also followed suit...
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Bananas Lend Stability in Post-Conflict Colombia 19.05.2014
For more than a generation, banana farmers and workers in the regions of Urabá and Magdalena, Colombia, have been seeking one thing: stability. Following the 2006 peace process that brought an end to major conflicts in Colombia, the focus shifted to resurrecting the battered economy.“An Evaluation of Fairtrade Impact on Smallholders and Workers in the Banana Sector in Northern Colombia (PDF),” a recently-released report by the Corporation for Rural Business Development (CODER), looks into the impact of Fairtrade for small-scale banana farmers and workers on banana plantations and how...
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Global trade 2013 : Guatemala leaps into second place 06.05.2014
Although some of the figures for export volumes (in millions of metric tonnes) are still provisional, there is no doubt that the news is about Guatemala taking second place in the global banana export league table for the first time. The volume of 2.14 million tonnes exported in 2013 is more than double the country's export volume of 2006 and over 50% up from just three years ago. Philippines volume is much lower than usual because of Hurricane Pablo in December combined with serious disease problems. The highly productive plantations of the Guatemalan Pacific coastal provinces of Escuintla...
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Guatemala: reversing the race to the bottom 06.05.2014
As news that Chiquita is investing in improving its port facilities in Guatemala confirms, the country’s rapidly expanded banana industry looks here to stay as one of the world’s top three exporters for years to come. Local industry reports that more than 30,000 workers are now employed in banana export production in rural communities earning wages higher than comparable sectors. Indeed some more progressive companies, conscious of rising expectations by consumers and therefore retailers, have made significant improvements in labour standards, however hours remain very long and take-home...
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Multinationals lose grip on global banana exports 30.04.2014
The influence of multinational banana companies has significantly decreased since the 1980s when Chiquita, Dole and Fresh Del Monte held a firm majority of global trade, according to a report released yesterday by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). In 2013, these three leading distributors represented slightly over a third of global banana exports with 36.6% of the market. The share has dropped sharply from the 1980s when Chiquita, Dole and Fresh Del Monte peaked with a combined control of 65.3% of exports.The sharpest decline has occured over the past decade,...
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Threat posed by Panama disease 14.04.2014
In the 1950's a strain of 'Panama disease' known as race 1 wiped out almost all banana plantations in Central and South America, taking with it the  most popular banana at the time, the 'Gros Michel'. In the second half of the 1900s banana producers across the world switched to a different cultivar, the 'Cavendish' variety that accounts for 47 percent of the world's banana production. Alarmingly, a strain of Panama disease, known as 'TR4' (tropical race 4) has recently been found in Mozambique and Jordan, "posing a serious threat to production and export". The United Nations Food and...
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Camposol workers strike again 19.03.2014
Peru’s biggest agro-export company, Camposol, once again finds itself in the frontline of worker protests, this time at their main production site near Trujillo in Northern Peru. Workers affiliated to the SITECASA union have a list of commitments made by the company, including in the collective agreement, that have not been met. They accuse the company of talking the rhetoric of responsibility, but not practising it. When police were called to deal with the stoppage late last week, reported to have been supported by thousands of Camposol workers, the peaceful protest turned sour and injuries...
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Chiquita takes the reins to resolve Honduran conflict 12.03.2014
Chiquita has bought a group of three Honduran plantations, formerly known as Tres Hermanas, following more than a year of conflict involving the former owner of the Honduran banana company and independent workers’ union SITRAINBA. Until now Chiquita branded and marketed the bananas produced by the Tres Hermanas group, but it now owns the company, having sacked the previous management and rehired the workforce. After several months of uncertainty, in December, Rainforest Alliance suspended its certification of the plantations. Previously workers who joined the independent SITRAINBA trade union...
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New banana giant 10.03.2014
The news that Chiquita and Fyffes are to merge is doubtless a reflection of the way the banana market has been going for the last 15-20 years. Two big fruit companies have felt the downward pressure of the big retail buyers on their margins and consolidation appears to them to be a strategy for survival. Historically, the two companies were linked, but since the 1980s they have been competitors. The need for consolidation in the face of huge retail buyer power would appear to be the main driver in this merger.   Banana Link's International Coordinator, Alistair Smith, highlighted concern...
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Making banana prices fair 24.02.2014
Fairtrade Fortnight 2014 marks the launch of Make Bananas Fair! a unique opportunity to transform the banana industry and ensure that farmers and workers at the sharp end of the supply chain, get a fair deal. Banana Link welcomes the campaign  which will ask Vince Cable, as Secretary of State for Business, to urgently investigate the impact of unsustainable supermarket pricing. In 2000 the first Fairtrade banana appeared in British supermarkets. Two years later Asda/Walmart began the bitter banana price wars that continue to this day.   'The impacts of 'the Race to the Bottom' in the...
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