Hamburg-based importer Port International has outdone beverage company Pfanner and ice cream brand Ben & Jerry's to win a Fairtrade Award 2012 for industry.
The group has imported Fairtrade bananas into Europe since 1997, sourcing the fruit from small-scale farmers in Peru, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic.
The judging panel for this year's awards praised Port for its role in guaranteeing stable selling prices and a Fairtrade premium for producers, as well as its involvement in a number of social responsibility projects in supply countries over the past few years.
Despite being significantly smaller than its multinational rivals in the European banana trade, Port has managed to become Germany's largest importer of Fairtrade-branded conventional and organic bananas –the latter making up around 90 per cent of the total volume.
"This award is a great confirmation for 15 years of continuous development," commented managing director Mike Port. "From the beginning, we have been able to increase the sales volume to the current 4m bananas a week. We have been able to help several farmers with the Fairtrade system, above all by making their production exportable."
He added: "Unlike the mainstream banana trade, where on a large plantation 10,000 boxes of bananas are exported every week, our small farmers provide only around two boxes per week. Our service is to generate results by meeting the requirements of European supermarket chains both in terms of quantity and quality.
"We are especially proud that we have succeeded in providing a continuous quality premium, despite these small-scale structures."