Supermarkets slammed for selling bananas too cheaply

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In its latest buyers’ guide Ethical Consumer magazine today attacks the UK’s biggest supermarkets for selling bananas too cheaply and calls on them to set a realistic price that benefits workers in the banana trade.

Fierce price wars between the supermarket giants has forced down the price of loose bananas making them cheaper now than 20 years ago. Whilst shoppers have benefited from this race to the bottom, cheap bananas have spelt disaster for the four million families in the developing world who depend on the banana trade for their livelihood.

Co-author of the Ethical Consumer banana buyers’ guide Heather Webb said: “The good news for shoppers is that bananas are as cheap as ever. However this is really bad news for banana workers who are paying the true cost of these bargain prices. On average they earn just 4 per cent of the money made from the sale of bananas in UK supermarkets. We’re now calling on the UK’s biggest supermarkets to abandon their price wars and start charging a fair price for their bananas.”

Alistair Smith, a veteran campaigner with Banana Link which works for justice within the world banana trade singles out ASDA for particular criticism: “ASDA/WalMart’s role in leading banana prices down to unsustainably low levels is a major block to achieving decent working conditions in the banana plantations of Latin America and West Africa.

Banana Link believes that consumers are prepared to pay a fair price for their bananas. If they knew the damage that the other retailers are doing at the beginning of the chain by playing the price war game they would be up in arms.“

Supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s and Waitrose that sell only Fairtrade bananas are also playing the price wars as 68p per kilo for bananas is not a fair price and crucially this is sending the wrong message to consumers. Sainsbury’s in particular have even been reported to have used their considerable commercial clout to keep Fairtrade minimum prices from increasing to reflect rising costs of production.

Ethical Consumer rated the Best Buys for bananas as being Fairtrade, Oké and Windward Islands bananas. The Best Buy for bananas from supermarkets are Fairtrade bananas from the Co-operative, Ethical Consumer’s Best Buy supermarket.

Source: Ethical Consumer