Supermarket banana price wars trapping farmers in ‘unrelenting cycle of poverty’

Gurjit Degun
24 February 2014

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24 February 2014 | Gurjit Degun

Banana price wars in Britain’s supermarkets are trapping tens of thousands of farmers in an “unrelenting cycle of poverty”.

The Fairtrade Foundation has called for government intervention to investigate the impact of retailer pricing practices.

It said 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,” the Fairtrade Foundation said in a report called Britain’s Bruising Banana Wars.

However, it found that living costs for banana farmers and workers in the three countries that provide 70 per cent of the UK’s bananas have risen by 85 per cent in Colombia, 350 per cent in the Dominican Republic and 240 per cent in Ecuador.

The report added that as bananas are the fourth most important food crop in the world and one of the most valuable agricultural commodities in global trade, “it is wrong that they do not guarantee a sustainable living for all the people involved in producing and supplying the market”.

“Small farmers and plantation workers are the collateral damage in supermarket price wars,” added Fairtrade Foundation chief executive Michael Gidney. “The poorest people are bearing the cost of our cheap bananas and they have to work harder and harder as what they earn is worth less and less in their communities. As a result, a product that is worth billions of pounds in global trade relies on poverty-level income for the people who grow it.”

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