The growing impact of climate change and soaring production costs mean urgent action to address unsustainable banana prices is essential, according to Fairtrade Foundation

The Fairtrade Foundation has issued a stark warning on the grave consequences of climate change for global banana production, calling for urgent action to deliver fair prices for producers.

Fairtrade bananas

“The consequences of climate change for banana production are very real,” said Anna Pierides, the Foundation’s responsible business senior manager for bananas, during this week’s World Banana Forum in Rome. “Farmers are battling daily with unpredictable weather patterns, scorching sun, floods, hurricanes, and increased cases of plant diseases. All these are hitting producers hard.” 

On top of that, she said, soaring production costs for fertiliser, pallets, plastic packaging and labour were bringing additional pressure.

“Without fair prices, banana farmers simply cannot make ends meet,” she concluded. “If banana producers are unable to cover their costs, they are unable to stay in business.”

She said that Fairtrade was committed to raising incomes and living standards for banana producers.

“Buying Fairtrade bananas means that producers are guaranteed a Minimum Price (FTMP), which acts as a safety net against the unpredictable market, aiming to ensure farmers are paid a price that covers their average costs of production,” she explained.

Pierides said the UK, which averages imports of more than 1m tonnes of bananas a year  and is one of the highest per capita consumers of the fruit in Europe, was in a position to drive change, but unsustainably low supermarket prices were devaluing the category.

“With rising costs for banana farmers and other players along the supply chain, we cannot continue to be content with a situation where banana farmers pay the price for our low-cost fruit,” she stated. “Fairtrade believes the UK banana industry has a unique opportunity to drive change within the sector at scale, ensuring a brighter future for banana farmers and workers, and fairer, sustainable supply chains.

According to Pierides, the Fairtrade Minimum Price is “a critical foundation from which to address risk, and to ensure sustainable banana supplies in the future”.

“The FTMP provides an ongoing floor from which to close wage and income gaps,” she explained. “Without this, there is no guarantee wage and income gaps will not continue to increase exponentially over time. Fairtrade reviews its Minimum Price for bananas annually, in consultation with producers and traders.

“Fairtrade’s Living Wage Reference Price helps close wage gaps. Fairtrade Standards are designed to improve employment conditions and protect the rights of workers on certified plantations and to support certified farmers to increase their incomes and gain more control within the banana supply chains.”

Pierides said that Fairtrade was working closely with plantations and smallholder organisations to promote farm practices to mitigate climate risks, improve income opportunities, boost biodiversity and protect soil health.