Make Bananas Fair

Here you'll find the latest news about our campaign to make bananas fair and how its been progressing. 

You can find out more about the campaign and why we're running it here.

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Vince acts!

We launched our campaign to Make Bananas Fair almost a year ago with a clear call: cheap bananas are threatening farmers’ futures

During Fairtrade Fortnight 2014, supporters throughout the UK raised awareness of the effects of the bitter banana price battles between the UK’s biggest supermarkets. An incredible 70,000 people petitioned Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, asking him to urgently investigate the impact of these price wars and act to protect the millions of vulnerable farmers and workers who grow the UK’s favourite fruit. The petition, which was handed in to the Department for Business in May 2014, has opened the doors to further discussions with the government, and we’ve been talking with them behind the scenes since then. 

And this month we got some important news. 

You may have heard about the Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) in the news recently. The GCA is a little known but important government body that has the power to investigate supermarkets that are alleged to have imposed unfair terms and conditions on their suppliers. 

Vince Cable has announced that the GCA will soon be given new, heftier powers to fine any supermarkets who breaks the rules. This is a powerful new incentive to all supermarkets to play fair when they are buying from banana farmers around the world. 

Your loud call for change, along with equally loud calls from UK dairy farmers, who are also affected by supermarket price wars, has helped to convince the government to act. 

We welcome the news but know there’s still more to do. The GCA doesn’t yet have the power to look at the prices paid to suppliers, so we want the government to go further. We’ll be talking to whoever is in charge after the General Election and we’ll be in touch again when you can help to push the campaign forward. 

You can read more about Vince's announcement and its impact in more detail over on our blog.

Thank you for your support – it really does make a difference.

January 2015: Thank you!

Thank you for being part of the loud and powerful call to Asda and Tesco to turn all their bananas Fairtrade. From Shetland to Southampton you’ve made your voices heard with an incredible 170,000 messages reaching the supermarkets’ head offices and local stores. This has unlocked the door to meetings at the highest level with Asda and Tesco to seriously discuss their sourcing policies and how they independently verify them to their customers.

Asda and Tesco - Make Bananas Fairtrade

These discussions take time and unfortunately we can’t yet announce any new or future commitments from Asda or Tesco to put more Fairtrade bananas on their shelves. Nevertheless, it’s a positive first step which has also been accompanied by a welcome first public commitment from Tesco to seriously look at living wages for workers on the banana plantations they work with directly. We’ll keep you updated as discussions develop and will call on you again when th

Our biggest success has been showing Asda and Tesco this: that UK consumers really do want independent verification that supermarkets treat their banana farmers and workers fairly.e campaign needs to take its next steps.

Don't forget to keep asking and buying for Fairtrade bananas. 

December 2014: Responding to Asda and Tesco

The campaign had an incredible first week- with over 40,000 messages sent to local Asda and Tesco stores and their head offices. We know that many of you are now receiving responses from Asda and Tesco to your emails asking them to turn their bananas 100% Fairtrade. 

They raise some important and positive points but still fall a long way short of a commitment to follow Sainsbury’s, The Co-operative and Waitrose in selling only Fairtrade bananas with all the independently verified protection and support this would bring poor banana farmers and workers.

This is becoming even more important as the UK’s supermarket price wars continue to intensify.

Please do build the conversation by replying to them and asking why they are still not switching.

You can find some suggestions to help you respond to them here.

When you reply, don’t forget to CC so we can keep track of how many people are building the conversation.

November 2014: Fairtrade London launches next stage of Make Bananas Fair campaign

In November, Fairtrade London dusted off their banana suits and took to the streets of Clapham to launch the next stage of our make bananas fair campaign. They turned up at their local Asda and Tesco stores with a message that couldn’t be missed – a giant, inflatable banana emblazoned with ‘Go Fairtrade!’ 

November saw the launch of the second phase of our campaign with the question: who's paying the price for our cheap bananas? 

Asda and Tesco are two of the biggest bananas sellers in the UK and major players in this price war. Thousands of farmers and workers grow the millions of bananas they sell each year, yet less than one in ten of these bananas comes with Fairtrade certification, which research shows is the best independent assurance that those who produced them were protected from the pressure of low prices. We need to know that farmers and workers aren’t paying the price for our cheap bananas - so thousands of supporters asked their local Asda and Tesco stores to switch to 100% Fairtrade bananas. 

June 2014: Disappointing response from Vince Cable and Department for Business

In the summer we has a response from Vince Cable and the Department for Business in response to our petition.  Although Vince acknowledged the need for retailers to treat suppliers in a fair, sustainable way, he didn’t take the action the petition asked for and stated that he believes the market currently works because consumers get cheap bananas. We disagreed – bitter banana price battles continue to rage while vulnerable farmers and workers remain trapped in poverty.

We updated Foncho on the outcome of the petition and asked for his reflections, here's what he had to say:

Portrait of Foncho"My biggest reflection from my visit is how you received me like a member of your own family, and how passionate you all were about Fairtrade. However, Fairtrade Fortnight was only the beginning of the journey to make bananas fair. The price wars that continue to rage between retailers in the UK are damaging the livelihoods of thousands of farmers like me. I’ve heard that the UK’s Secretary of State for Business, Vince Cable, supports Fairtrade’s work broadly but believes the market is currently working for consumers who get cheap bananas. My message to him is simple: what about us, the farmers and workers who grow bananas? I want to stress the importance of protecting producers: we work incredibly hard all year round to grow the UK’s favourite fruit. We deserve a fair price for our bananas. Please continue to support me, and thousands like me, by asking for and buying Fairtrade bananas."

May 2014: Make Bananas Fair petition handed in to Government

An incredible 70,000 people stuck with Foncho, joined the campaign to Make Bananas Fair and signed a petition to Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills – agreeing that the Government should act to protect the millions of poor farmers and workers who grow our favourite fruit.

The petition was handed in to the Department of Business in May by a group of Fairtrade supporters along with Michael Gidney, Chief Executive of the Fairtrade Foundation.

March 2014: Foncho, Fairtrade Fortnight & launch of Make Bananas Fair campaign

Fairtrade Fortnight 2014 saw the start of our campaign to Make Bananas Fair. Supporters up and down the UK rallied behind Albeiro Alfonso 'Foncho' Cantillo, a smallholder banana farmer from Colombia, organising thousands of events to spread the word in their communities that cheap bananas threaten farmers futures.

Foncho toured the UK during Fairtrade Fortnight, speaking to government, businesses and supporters about the impact the supermarket price wars have on farmers like him, and the difference Fairtrade has made to his life, farm and community. He was the first to sign a petition to Vince Cable MP, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, calling on him to urgently investigate the grave impact of supermarket pricing practices. 

February 2014: Britain's Bruising Banana Wars - a new report

In February 2014 we published a new report - Britain's Bruising Banana Wars. It revealed that in the past 10 years, the UK supermarket sector has almost halved the shelf price of loose bananas while the cost of producing them has doubled.

We now typically pay 11p for a loose banana compared with 18p a decade ago, while a loose apple grown in the UK now costs 20p. Meanwhile living costs for banana farmers and workers in the three countries that provide 70% of the UK's bananas, Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Ecuador, have rocketed by 85%, 350% and 240% respectively. 

The report further exposes the real impact British supermarket price wars are having on banana farmers and workers and their families. The resulting drop in export prices for bananas in producing countries means an ever-tightening squeeze on what producers earn for their bananas. This, combined with escalating production and living costs, means many farmers and workers' standards of living have progressively worsened in the past decade. You can download and read the report here.