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 British banana industry should shame all leading supermarkets. Consumers do not want workers and farmers to be trapped in poverty, penalised for exercising their human rights or exposed to the devastating effects of toxic chemicals. 'Make Bananas Fair!' is a chance to stop workers and farmers paying the price for British consumers to have cheap fruit.' according to Alistair Smith, Banana Link's International Coordinator.
More than three in ten fresh bananas sold in the UK are Fairtrade certified - more than any other country in the EU. Yet, despite this achievement, there remains a serious problem at the heart of the banana business. According to the Fairtrade Foundation, ‘as global exports have grown, many banana farmers and workers have seen their earnings cut in real terms. Shockingly, the UK supermarket sector has almost halved the shelf price of loose bananas in the last 10 years even though the cost of producing bananas has doubled. We now pay on average 11p for a loose banana compared to 20p for a loose UK grown apple.’
The World Banana Forum brings all industry stakeholders together to find ways of making the banana trade sustainable. Some British retailers, notably Tesco, are already active in the Forum and taking positive steps which include working towards the payment of living wages. This Fairtrade Fortnight Banana Link is calling on all retailers to become members of the World Banana Forum and actively engage in collaborative work to distribute value fairly along the banana chain. This includes paying prices that cover the Costs of Sustainable Production and putting an end to poverty in banana exporting communities.
Listen to Renwick Rose on BBC Radio 5 live's Up All Night calling for supermarkets to increase banana prices to help Caribbean farmers. Renwick Rose, who represents farmers in St Lucia, said that while banana shelf prices had dropped, production costs had doubled: "It is almost impossible now to make ends meet. It's really just unsustainable. People cannot continue to be producing bananas and getting the returns they are getting."
Read the press statement from the Fairtrade Foundation and read their policy report, ‘Britain’s Bruising Banana Wars'.