Brighter future for banana workers as Fairtrade launches ‘game changing’ new offer for traders and retailers

You are currently viewing Brighter future for banana workers as Fairtrade launches ‘game changing’ new offer for traders and retailers

Image: A banana producer in the Dominican Republic. Credit Christian Nusch / Fairtrade Deutschland

Fairtrade International is excited to launch a major new initiative in the drive to deliver decent incomes for workers on Fairtrade certified banana plantations across the world.

Fairtrade’s sustainable offer to achieve living wages, living incomes and resilient banana supply chains is being launched this week at the global Fruit Attraction expo in Madrid. It aims to ensure that banana workers earn as a minimum the living wage for their country, whilst helping retailers fulfil their commitments to a sustainable banana industry.

More than 35,658 workers and farmers employed by 265 Fairtrade banana producers stand to benefit. The  offer combines three elements – the Fairtrade Minimum Price (FMP), Living Wage Reference Price (LWRP), and Fairtrade Living Wage Differential (LWD) – designed to make both living wages and resilient banana supply chains a reality.

‘Our key commercial partners are increasingly demanding the tools and the data to enable them to fulfil their commitments to pay a fair price so that banana workers can earn a living wage. Our unique offer is a game-changer for workers, traders and retailers,’ said Silvia Campos, Senior Advisor for Bananas at Fairtrade International.

Protecting banana producers

‘Fairtrade is working to strengthen protection for banana producers, workers and their families as they struggle to cope with mounting economic costs, climate change, human rights risks and the need to adopt more sustainable agricultural practices,’ added Campos. ‘Despite some slight reductions in the price of fuel and fertilisers, banana producers are still suffering from post-pandemic losses. They simply can’t afford to pay higher wages or invest in the future of their farms.’

Fairtrade is the only global standard which calculates a publicly available Living Wage Reference Price to enable the industry to close the gap towards living wages. An elected workers’ Premium Committee on each plantation can also distribute additional cash payments from the Fairtrade Premium – the extra amount earned by selling on Fairtrade terms – to close the living wage gap.

The new service allows the easy and distribution of voluntary payments from retailers to workers, and the verification and reporting of payment receipts. Fairtrade has also developed a new banana dashboard with all the necessary data to enable traders and retailers to report progress back to their stakeholders.

Call to UK companies

Kerrina Thorogood, Partnerships Director at the Fairtrade Foundation, said: ‘It is in everyone’s interests – producers, workers, traders, retailers and consumers – that we create and maintain sustainable, resilient banana supply chains. Our new initiative represents a clear and tangible step forward in the drive to deliver decent wages for workers who grow Fairtrade bananas.

‘We would strongly urge UK businesses and retailers to get behind this unique offer to deepen sustainability in the banana sector. We hope more UK companies will partner with us in the journey towards achieving living wages for the people behind the bananas that are much-loved by British consumers.’

We hope more UK companies will partner with us in the journey towards living wages for the people behind the bananas that are much-loved by British consumers.

Kerrina Thorogood, Fairtrade Foundation Partnerships Director

At the same time, Fairtrade has announced an average increase of 0.2 percent in the Fairtrade Minimum Price for ‘free on board’ bananas (the purchase price for importing traders) which comes into effect from January 2024. The Fairtrade Premium – the additional US$1.00 per box of bananas sold – remains unchanged.

‘The combination of an updated minimum price and a commitment by many of our major commercial partners is a real cause for optimism,’ said Marike de Peña, President of CLAC (the Fairtrade Producer Network for Latin America and the Caribbean), and herself a Fairtrade banana producer in the Dominican Republic. ‘Fairtrade’s unique offer is a win for plantation workers and a win for traders and retailers. I believe this service will lead to more companies sourcing more bananas under Fairtrade terms.’

Achieving a living wage is only possible if prices are sustainable along each step of the supply chain,’ said Fairtrade International’s Silvia Campos. ‘Fairtrade has taken concrete steps towards closing the living wage gap for banana workers in recent years – including introducing the base wage and Living Wage Reference Price. There’s still a long way to go, but workers on Fairtrade certified banana plantations can now look forward to a more secure future.’

ENDS

For interview requests please contact: tomilola.ajayi@fairtrade.org.uk

Notes for editors

  • A detailed factsheet about the sustainable banana initiative and the Fairtrade Minimum Price can be downloaded here. Fairtrade’s sustainable offer to achieve living wages, living incomes and resilient banana supply chains will be launched with an expert panel discussion at the Fruit Attraction expo in Madrid on 4 October. The panel will include representatives from Fairtrade, banana growers and commercial partners.
  • Fairtrade Minimum Price (FMP): the updated FMP for bananas comes into force from 1 January 2024. The FMP for Fairtrade bananas at ‘Ex-works’ level will increase by an average of 2.1 percent (an increase of between US$ 0.05 and US$ 0.35 per 18.14 kg box). The FMP for ‘Free on Board’ (FOB) bananas will increase by an average of 0.2 percent per box. The table of all the new prices can be found here.
  • Living Wage Reference Price (LWRP): the price of a packed box of 18.14 kg fresh banana set for a specific banana producing country, that if paid for each sold box, would ensure that all workers on a banana plantation earn at least a gross Living Wage, as defined in the benchmark reports published by the independent Anker Research Institute.
  • Living Wage Differential (LWD): the amount of money that a commercial partner may pay in addition to the FMP, that if paid for all sold boxes, would ensure that all workers of a banana plantation earn at least the gross Living Wage, as defined by the Anker methodology.
  • The details of the LWRP and LWD can be found here.

About Fairtrade

Fairtrade changes the way trade works through better prices, decent working conditions, and a fairer deal for farmers and workers in developing countries. Fairtrade Foundation is a member of Fairtrade International, an independent non-profit organisation representing more than two million small-scale farmers and workers worldwide. Fairtrade International owns the FAIRTRADE Mark, a registered trademark of Fairtrade that appears on more than 37,000 products. Beyond certification, Fairtrade partners with producers and businesses, engages consumers, and advocates for a fair and sustainable future. Find out more here.