Organisation celebrates National Banana Day in the US with call to support a fair supply chain

Fairtrade America has called for greater support for the more than 450m people around the world whose livelihoods depend on banana and plantain farming.

The organisation’s appeal coincides with National Banana Day, which takes place on 20 April in the US.

Bananas account for an estimated global export value of US$7bn per year, making them both the world’s most popular fruit and one of the most economically essential.

In the US specifically, a 2020 study found that Americans ate 27.22lbs of bananas per capita, more than any other fruit.

Burden of increasing costs

“The US remains the largest, single-country importer of fresh bananas, yet, Americans were paying, on average, about US$0.62 per pound for bananas in 2021, leaving producers to shoulder the burden of increasing costs to get bananas in our supermarkets,” Fairtrade America outlined.

“Many banana producers are losing money on each banana sold,” the third-party certification continued. “They are confronted with sharp and repeated price increases triggered by the escalating cost of fertilisers and the ongoing supply chain crisis, which has increased prices for packaging, pallets, inland freight, custom fees and more.

“While importers and retailers have increased the amount they are paying for bananas, it has not been enough. Without a fair deal, the 800,000 families across Latin American and the Caribbean who rely on the industry for work will face financial impacts on their business and livelihoods that could be devastating. These impacts could include a lack of funds to invest in climate change resilience sustainability improvements; techniques to help increase production; and efficient water use.”

Joint call for support

On 12 January 2022, the ministers of agriculture from seven Latin American banana producing countries – Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, and Honduras – came out in vocal support of banana producers.

The joint statement sounded the alarm over pricing that is taking a toll on smallholder farmers, agricultural workers, rural communities and the environment, and called upon businesses to align with Fairtrade’s approach to trade and its system of minimum price setting.

The call from those governments for shared social responsibility across the supply chain aimed to shed a direct light on the ongoing price crisis affecting banana producers.

“Bananas are hands down the world’s most popular fruit, and are an essential cornerstone of many countries’ economies,” said Peg Willingham, executive director of Fairtrade America. “It is imperative that all actors in the supply chain do their part to rebalance trade and make it a system rooted in partnership rather than exploitation.”

Seek the Fairtrade mark

Fairtrade said it was encouraging consumers to look for the Fairtrade mark when shopping for bananas to ensure the farmers and workers behind those bananas get a fair deal.

On National Banana Day, Fairtrade America will also share an inspiring message on Instagram in hopes to inspire its supporters to share, demonstrating their own personal commitment to and support of banana farmers and workers worldwide.

The first Fairtrade banana was sold 25 years ago, and today there are now more than 250 Fairtrade certified producer organisations and farms in 16 countries, with more than 36,000 farmers and workers.

“To ensure another 25 years of fairness in the banana trade, we will continue to pursue social justice through partnership with brands and retailers, advocacy in support of fairer trade practices and regulations, and taking our cues from the farmers and workers at the foundation of the supply chain who deserve a fair deal,” continued Willingham.