23 August, 2018

Top 12 Facts about Fairtrade Bananas

Washing bananas - photo by Ian Berry
by Heather Nicholson

In the UK we eat 5 billion bananas every year. How much do you know about this delicious and versatile fruit?

1. A third of bananas sold in the UK are Fairtrade

That comes to around 240,000 metric tonnes. All bananas sold at Waitrose, Co-op and Sainsbury’s are Fairtrade. Other shops sell Fairtrade bananas too so make sure to look out for the FAIRTRADE Mark.

2. Fairtrade Premiums totalled £25.5 million in 2016

Banana farmers and workers received £25.5 million in Fairtrade Premiums in 2016, an increase of 5% from the previous year. Fairtrade Premium is an additional sum of money which goes into a communal fund for workers and farmers to use to improve their social, economic and environmental conditions. See how Coobana Co-operative in Colombia used their Premium to improve their housing situation and support education for their members and their families. Go to video.

3. Use banana skins to calm itchy mosquito bites

Next time you peel a banana, pause before you chuck out the skin. Do you have any bites? Banana peel contains an anti-inflammatory agent. 

Banana cut in two

4. Bananas are the backbone of many countries’ economies

Trading bananas is the cornerstone of many developing countries’ economies, with an estimated global export value of $7 billion. They are also the staple food for millions of people.

5. Is a banana a fruit, herb or tree?

It’s a herb and a fruit! Distantly related to ginger, bananas are classed as an herbaceous plant rather than a tree because what appears to be a trunk isn’t actually a trunk. Instead the leaves are tightly wrapped around a single stem, which leads up to a fruit-bearing flower stalk. 

Banana Plant - photo by Ian Berry

Photo by Ian Berry

6. Bananas have tons of health benefits

Bananas are loaded with potassium, which helps regulate heart function and blood pressure. Potassium-rich foods help to lower blood pressure and protect against heart disease and strokes. Nutritional and tasty!

7. How many calories are there in a banana?

It’s a popular question so here’s your answer – approximately 105 calories. Banana cake, however, may contain a few more… delicious banana cake recipe here.

banana cake page banner

8. Where do bananas come from?

Originally, bananas came from Asia but today they come from all over the world. Most of the bananas sold in the UK come from Latin America, whereas India produces the most bananas overall. Farmers and workers in Latin America and the Caribbean produce 94% of all Fairtrade bananas consumed worldwide. There are currently 22,000 banana farmers and plantation workers in the Fairtrade system working in 91 certified co-operatives and 56 certified plantations. 

9. You can use banana skins to shine your shoes

The potassium found in bananas is a key ingredient in shoe polish. Simply peel your banana and use the inner lining of the skin to rub all over your shoes. Buff up afterwards with a soft cloth.

10. 47% of bananas grown worldwide are Cavendish

There are many different types of banana but almost all bananas exported to the western world are Cavendish bananas. The popularity of different types of banana has been driven by disease. When the Gros Michel banana, the exporter’s pick in the 1950s, was practically wiped out by the fungus known as Panama disease, farmers turned to the Cavendish banana which was less tasty but immune. These bananas are sterile and depend on propagation via cloning. However, the Cavendish banana is no longer immune...

Cavendish Bananas stacked in boxes - photo by Ian Berry

Photo by Ian Berry

11. Panama disease is a major threat to the banana trade

17 million tonnes of bananas are exported globally each year, almost all of which are Cavendish bananas. The current strain of the Panama disease attacks Cavendish bananas and some 10,000 hectares of Cavendish have already been destroyed. Experts warn that the fungus could spread to Latin America, where many of the bananas we buy come from. Scientists are attempting to create a robust variety that could replace the current crop.

12. Fairtrade has improved the lives of banana farmers

In 2016, Fairtrade banana farmers and workers earned €28,503,060 in Fairtrade Premiums. 96% of banana smallholders surveyed in Colombia said that their economic situation had improved since joining Fairtrade. These farmers reported an average 34% increase in income because of Fairtrade. 

Family in Colombia- photo by Ian Berry

Photo by Ian Berry

Find out where you can buy Fairtrade Bananas.

If you're hungry to know more, visit our About Bananas page.

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