ASDA AND TESCO RECEIVE 100,000 REQUESTS FOR FAIRTRADE BANANAS

Asda asked to switch to Fairtrade bananas

Public call for Asda and Tesco to switch their bananas to Fairtrade

Shoppers across the UK have bombarded Asda and Tesco's head offices and local stores with more than 100,000 emails over the last four weeks, in a public campaign that calls for the retailers to switch their bananas to Fairtrade.

In Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds and London, Fairtrade supporters have been campaigning outside branches of Asda and Tesco, and outside Asda's Leeds HQ, dressed as bananas and holding aloft a 5m inflatable banana emblazoned with a clear and simple message for the retailers: 'Go Fairtrade'.

Together, Asda and Tesco sell almost half of the 5 billion bananas that UK shoppers buy each year, but both source less than 10% of their bananas on Fairtrade terms.

As a result of supermarket price wars, the price of loose bananas has almost halved over the past 10 years while the cost of producing them has doubled[1]. Banana farmers and workers often pay the price, with many of them trapped in poverty[2]. But retailers who source bananas on Fairtrade terms, such as Sainsbury's, Waitrose and The Co-operative, [3] can provide shoppers with an independent assurance that whatever price they pay for bananas at the till, the producers have earned a stable price that aims to cover the cost of sustainable production, as well as an additional 10% – 16% paid as a Fairtrade Premium[4], which can be invested as the farmers choose, in their businesses and communities. 

Fairtrade also provides an independent assurance on workers’ rights and working conditions. For example, Fairtrade requires plantation owners to pay workers at least the national minimum wage (or the regional average wage, or wages set by collective bargaining agreements, if higher) and to move towards a Living Wage over time. Fairtrade has already established a Living Wage benchmark for banana producers in the Dominican Republic and by 2015, the Fairtrade system will have established living wage benchmarks for all banana exporting countries. 

UK shoppers care about the conditions that banana farmers and workers face, with more than eight in ten Asda and Tesco shoppers saying they would pay more for their bananas if the farmers and workers who produced them benefit[5]. UK shoppers trust independent third-party certification more than retailers' ethical claims, with Fairtrade being the label they trust most to ensure that farmers and workers get a fair deal[6].

Jonathan Smith, Head of Campaigns at Fairtrade Foundation, said: “Shoppers across the UK are sending a clear message to Asda and Tesco – they want an independent assurance that banana farmers and workers are not paying the price for their cheap fruit. As yet we have heard nothing of substance from Asda, but we hope that they act soon in response to the public’s concerns. Since the launch of Fairtrade's campaign, Tesco has made some new public commitments about the way in which it sources its bananas, including a pledge to pay living wages to workers on banana plantations by 2017, and we would support all retailers to move on this issue. However, we are still waiting for commitment to independent verification. This is what the UK public are calling for, and what we believe is vital in order to protect the interests of both farmers and workers in the developing world, and shoppers here in the UK."

Shoppers can ask their local Asda and Tesco to switch their bananas to Fairtrade by filling in a simple form at www.fairtrade.org.uk/bananas  
 
Globally, Fairtrade works with close to 25,000 banana plantation workers and small farmers across Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Peru, the Windward Islands, Panama, Costa Rica, Ghana and Cameroon.

In a recent study of smallholder farms in Colombia, the main origin for all bananas sold in the UK, 96% of farmers said their economic situation had improved, on average by 34% since joining Fairtrade. 100% of workers employed on Fairtrade certified plantations in Colombia who were interviewed by researchers, stated that their quality of life was better under Fairtrade[7].

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A UK map showing the Asda and Tesco stores that have received messages from the public, and a counter showing the latest number of messages that have been sent, can be found at: http://bananas.fairtrade.org.uk/   

For more information, images or interviews please contact Nicola Frame, Media & PR Manager for Fairtrade Foundation, on 020 7440 8597 or nicola.frame@fairtrade.org.uk

Notes to Editors

The Fairtrade Foundation is an independent certification body which licenses the use of the FAIRTRADE Mark on products which meet international Fairtrade standards. This independent consumer label appears on products to show that disadvantaged producers are getting a better deal from trade. Today, more than 1.3 million people – farmers and workers – across more than 70 developing countries benefit from the international Fairtrade system.

Over 4,500 products have been licensed to carry the FAIRTRADE Mark including coffee, tea, herbal teas, chocolate, cocoa, sugar, bananas, grapes, pineapples, mangoes, avocados, apples, pears, plums, grapefruit, lemons, oranges, satsumas, clementines, mandarins, lychees, coconuts, dried fruit, juices, smoothies, biscuits, cakes & snacks, honey, jams & preserves, chutney & sauces, rice, quinoa, herbs &  spices, seeds, nuts & nut oil, wines, beers, rum, confectionary, muesli, cereal bars, yoghurt, ice-cream, flowers, sports balls, sugar body scrub and cotton products including clothing, homeware, cloth toys, cotton wool, olive oil, gold, silver and platinum.

Public awareness of the FAIRTRADE Mark continues to be high in 2013, at a level of 77%. Estimated retail sales of Fairtrade products in 2013 exceeded £1.7 billion, a 14% increase on sales of £1.53 billion in 2012.

[1] Typical retail price is 68p per kilo, compared with £1.08 in 2002 (which adjusted for inflation is equivalent to £1.40 today).

[2] For instance in Ecuador, one of the UK’s biggest suppliers, only 1 in 4 families working in the banana industry earns enough to take them above the poverty line. INCAE, Analysis of the Salary Structure in the Banana Industry in Ecuador, February 2012

[3] Sainsbury's, Waitrose and The Co-operative source 100% of bananas as Fairtrade, other supermarkets source lower quantities.

[4] Fairtrade Minimum Price varies by origin. In Colombia, Costa Rica and Ecuador, all major origins for bananas sold in the UK, the Fairtrade Premium is equivalent to an extra 10 - 16%.

[5] ICM online omnibus: nationally representative sample of 2,000 GB adults aged 18+, Feb 2014

[6] 64% trust slightly or a great deal, retailers' own claims that farmers and workers are getting a fair deal, compared with 82% for Fairtrade certified products and 70% for products carrying any independent certification. ICM online omnibus: nationally representative sample of 2,000 GB adults aged 18+, Oct 2014.

[7] Corporation for Rural Economic Development, Colombia (CODER), Feb 2014 (survey data from Feb-Mar 2013) www.fairtrade.net/fileadmin/user_upload/content/2009/resources/140330-Banana-Colombia-Fairtrade-Impact-Study-final.pdf