Banana producers need more support

12 March, 2024. Banana producers need more support, says Fairtrade Foundation, as adverse weather and soaring costs push up banana prices.

Climate change is having an increasingly severe effect on food production and urgent action is needed, says a senior banana supply chain expert from the Fairtrade Foundation.

“The consequences of climate change for banana production are very real. Farmers are battling daily with unpredictable weather patterns, scorching sun, floods, hurricanes, and increased cases of plant diseases. All these are hitting producers hard,” says Anna Pierides, Responsible Business Senior Manager for Bananas, Speaking from the World Banana Forum.

“Meanwhile soaring production costs including fertiliser, pallets, plastic packaging, labour and more are adding extra pressure to already fragile livelihoods,” Ms Pierides said.

“Without fair prices, banana farmers simply cannot make ends meet. If banana producers are unable to cover their costs, they are unable to stay in business. Fairtrade is committed to raising incomes and living standards for banana producers.

“Buying Fairtrade bananas means that producers are guaranteed a Minimum Price (FTMP), which acts as a safety net against the unpredictable market, aiming to ensure farmers are paid a price that covers their average costs of production.

The UK has among the highest per capita consumption of bananas in Europe, and imports on average, more than a million tonnes a year. Our legacy of low supermarket prices only serve to devalue bananas, and they are not sustainable. With rising costs for banana farmers and other players along the supply chain, we cannot continue to be content with a situation where banana farmers pay the price for our low-cost fruit.

“Fairtrade believes the UK banana industry has a unique opportunity to drive change within the sector at scale, ensuring a brighter future for banana farmers and workers, and fairer, sustainable supply chains.

“The FTMP is a critical foundation from which to address risk, and to ensure sustainable supply of bananas in the future. Moreover, the FTMP provides an ongoing floor from which to close wage and income gaps. Without this, there is no guarantee wage and income gaps will not continue to increase exponentially over time. Fairtrade reviews its Minimum Price for bananas annually, in consultation with producers and traders.

Fairtrade’s Living Wage Reference Price helps close wage gaps. Fairtrade Standards are designed to improve employment conditions and protect the rights of workers on certified plantations and to support certified farmers to increase their incomes and gain more control within the banana supply chains.

“Fairtrade is working closely with plantations and small holder organisations to focus on farm practices and a diversified crop base to mitigate climate risks, improve income opportunities, biodiversity and soil health.”