Demands for fairer pricing and a more streamlined approach to certifications top the agenda in Berlin

Ecuador’s banana industry reiterated calls for a fairer pricing model and the rationalisation of certification schemes at last week’s Fruit Logistica.

Ecuadorean Banana Cluster

Representatives from the Ecuadorean Banana Cluster, agriculture minister Franklin Danilo Palacios, and Ecuador’s ambassador to Germany, Diego Morejón-Pazmiño, were in Berlin to address the critical issues faced by banana producers in their annual negotiations with EU supermarkets.

They emphasised the need for greater cooperation with retailers to cover the costs borne by Ecuadorean producers, noting that “the current market dynamics, driven by aggressive pricing strategies, fail to recognise the sustainability requirements imposed on producers and jeopardise the economic viability of the industry”.

The Cluster said new EU rules on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence provide a unique opportunity to apply the concept of shared responsibility along the entire value chain.

AEBE’s José Antonio Hidalgo commented: “Paying a fair price is pivotal for corporate justice and should be a pillar of retailers’ responsible purchasing policies. This is why we call on retailers to use as a reference the FairTrade methodology, that analyses the particularities of each country to get a fair price”.

A living wage is already enshrined in Ecuadorean law and the Cluster believes that it should be mandated in all banana-producing countries to help level the playing field.

The Cluster also highlighted the proliferation of private sustainability certification schemes, which it said places an unnecessary and costly burden on producers. A study undertaken by the Cluster found an overlap of almost 60 per cent within the core set of requirements of the nine most widely used certification schemes.

“It is time to eliminate this unnecessary complexity which affects both producers and consumers. We advocate for a streamlined approach to certifications, according to which harmonisation and rationalisation of certifications fall under one unique metholodogy, or for a closer, direct approach from retailers, such as via one-to-one audits,” said Richard Salazar, executive director of Acorbanec.

The Cluster argued that the proliferation of schemes is confusing to consumers, “who are confronted with a multitude of different certifications, going against the objectives established by the new EU rules prohibiting unsubstantiated green claims”.

It underscored the importance of consumers receiving accurate and transparent information about their products from its original source – the producers – without intermediaries, noting that this would eventually enhance the relationship between producers and retailers.

“In conclusion, the Ecuadorean Banana Cluster urges a re-evaluation of pricing dynamics in the banana industry, emphasising the necessity of fair prices to ensure corporate justice, sustainability, and financial viability, without foreign impositions that restrict a healthy trade relationship,” the Cluster said.

“As the banana industry strives for sustainable progress, we remain committed to fostering an environment of shared responsibility and transparency for the benefit of all stakeholders in Latin America and Europe.”