Retailer responds to criticism from Latin American industry groups and argues sales price does not always reflect the amount paid to suppliers

Kaufland Fairtrade bananas

Kaufland says it stocks Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance-certified bananas

Image: Kaufland

German hypermarket chain Kaufland has told Fruitnet it rejects the suggestion made this week by producers and exporters in Latin America that its banana pricing strategy is unfair and exploitative.

“A temporary, low promotional price, such as for bananas, is not automatically indicative of the producer price that producers receive,” a spokesperson said in an email. “When it comes to bananas, we are very sensitive to the fair payment of our suppliers and the production conditions.”

On 8 April, banana suppliers from Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Peru and the Dominican Republic accused Kaufland of “predatory pricing practices and failing… to properly inform end consumers”.

At the time of publication, the Kaufland website showed a kilo of bananas from Ecuador or Colombia on offer for €0.88. The Latin American suppliers argued that such a low price was basically a dereliction of duty on the part of the retailer towards the countries of origin.

But the retailer insisted it did take responsibility for people, animals, and the environment across its product range. “The formation of the sales price is always subject to several influences,” the spokesperson continued. “Factors include the size of the farms, logistics costs, distribution channels and pricing on the market. In addition, supply and demand regulate the price.

They added: “We attach great importance to paying our suppliers fairly and maintaining fair and trusting relationships.”

Kaufland, which operates more than 1,5000 stores in Germany, Poland, Romania, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Croatia and Moldova, has stocked Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade-certified products for several years.

“These stand for better working conditions on plantations, which include not only fair wages but also fixed contracts for the workers,” the spokesperson pointed out.

“We are also involved in the German retail trade’s working group on living incomes and wages and are now also a member of the World Banana Forum. There, we also participate in the Living Income Working Group, which campaigns for living wages and incomes in the banana sector.”