Who earns what from field to supermarket?

e-mail icon

These diagrams illustrate how the value from the sale of bananas is distributed along the supply chains of bananas imported into the UK in September 2018.  

Supermarket price wars

The UK grocery sector is one of the most diverse and sophisticated in the world. In 2014, it was worth £175 billion, rising by 2.8% compared to 2013 and bananas are the single biggest profit-making item sold on UK supermarket shelves. The UK market for bananas is one of the biggest in Europe, and the UK consumption per capita is the highest in the EU. 

Bananas are frequently a weapon of choice in the price wars pursued by our major supermarkets. Over the last few years, banana prices have been pushed down to ridiculously low levels, sometimes as little as 36p per kilo, and averaged 68p per kilo in the biggest UK retailers for most of 2013 - more than a third less than they were in 2002! As a result, average banana consumer prices have fallen sharply by more than 50% in real terms between 2000 and 2014.

Although supermarkets sometimes fund these price wars and enjoy significant buyer power, in general the cuts are simply passed onto suppliers until they reach plantation workers, the weakest link in the chain and therefore the 'easiest' to squeeze.  Workers are however the ones that can least afford the cuts. Their tiny share of total value often fails to provide a living wage (to cover essential needs including food, housing and education). The majority of plantation workers live in poverty and too many still have their most basic labour rights abused. Furthermore, price wars also affect smaller independent producers who are unable to trade at such low prices.

Further information

"The Aldi price": It’s time to peel the banana scandal, Oxfam Germany blog post, September 2014

German value chains and impacts on small farmers and workers, Oxfam Germany, June 2014

Britains's Bruising Banana Wars, a Fairtrade Foundation Report, February 2014

Listen to the Radio 4 Food Programme: Cut Price Fruit, Mon, 15 Nov 2010: Supermarket fruit wars - Sheila Dillon finds out if they cause pain for the producers.


Recent news

Unsustainability in New Zealand banana supply chain