Our campaign to Make Bananas Fair started earlier this year. It was launched to put the UK’s supermarket price wars over bananas and the impact on the millions of farmers and workers who grow them firmly in the spotlight.
Since the first Fairtrade bananas appeared on our shelves 13 years ago we’ve achieved a huge amount, with 1.2 billion bananas now being sold as Fairtrade in the UK each year. In terms of value that equates to a massive one in three bananas. Yet despite our achievements there remains a serious problem at the heart of the banana business.
Cheap bananas threaten farmers’ futures. Every day supermarkets battle each other through a highly competitive price war driven by their desire to get more customers into their stores. This has seen the price the majority of UK supermarkets charge for our loose bananas halve in the last 10 years even while the cost of producing bananas has doubled. Unfortunately this can put pressure on their suppliers and on banana farmers and workers, with many now caught below the poverty line and facing tough decisions every day (like the choice between feeding their families, paying for medicine or sending their children to school).
Petition to government
During Fairtrade Fortnight (24 Feb – 9 March 2014) we launched a petition with the aim of tackling the supermarket price wars. If all supermarkets are unable to make pricing work for both consumers and farmers (supermarkets are unable to discuss increasing prices due to UK competition law), we thought it was time for the Government to step in to end these pricing practices and protect millions of banana farmers and workers from poverty.
In May we handed in a petition signed by 70,000 of you calling on Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable MP, the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills to urgently investigate the pricing tactics of UK retailers on bananas. Unfortunately, although he acknowledged the need for retailers to treat suppliers in a fair, sustainable way, he didn’t take the needed action and stated that he believes the market currently works because consumers get cheap bananas.
We disagree – and the bitter banana price battles continue to rage between the UK’s biggest supermarkets, while vulnerable farmers and workers remain trapped in poverty. That’s why it’s time to take action again.
Asking Asda and Tesco to switch
If retailers and the Government are unable or unwilling to act to stop the banana price wars, we believe one thing supermarkets can do to protect banana farmers and workers from its effects is only sell Fairtrade bananas.
The FAIRTRADE Mark is the only independent assurance that producers receive a guaranteed minimum price designed to cover their costs of production, and an extra amount of money (the Fairtrade Premium) to invest in improving their farm and community, providing a vital safety net as prices fall and costs rise.
Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and The Co-operative have already acted to give their customers confidence that they’re not squeezing their farmers and workers – 100% of the bananas they sell are Fairtrade certified. Asda and Tesco lag a long way behind, and that’s why we’re asking them to switch their bananas as part of this campaign.
Asda and Tesco are two of the biggest banana 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.
Asda and Tesco are negotiating their banana contracts right now so we must act quickly. Send a message now and ask that they help protect producers by switching to Fairtrade.
Foncho, whose full name is Albeiro Alfonso ‘Foncho’ Cantillo, is a 45-year-old Colombian banana farmer and the face and spokesperson of our campaign to Make Bananas Fair.
Fairtrade provides me, my family, my business and my community with protection from falling prices. Whatever the market is like, I have the peace of mind and reassurance of a guaranteed minimum price for my Fairtrade bananas...
He visited the UK for 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, his farm and his community. He has kept a close eye on the campaign developments so far, including the response from government to our petition. He’s in support of the next stage of the campaign, saying:
You can read more about this in our policy report – Britain’s Bruising Banana Wars
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