Fairtrade Foundation raises concerns that sharp currency devaluation will result in costs being passed on to struggling producers and consumers, as well as derailing sustainability efforts

The collapse of the pound could hit under-pressure banana farmers hard

The collapse of the pound could hit under-pressure banana farmers hard

Image: Miriam Ersch

The collapse of the pound could set back efforts to intensify action on the climate crisis, human rights and decent pay for farmers and workers who produce food for UK markets.

That was the stark warning from the Fairtrade Foundation after the pound hit a record low against the US dollar on Monday (26 September).

The organisation is worried about the potential impact of the market volatility, both on farmers in low-income countries and the UK shoppers who buy the food they grow.

With sterling remaining weak, the Fairtrade Foundation is concerned that the sharp currency devaluation could damage efforts to improve environmental sustainability and agricultural workers’ rights and pay.

Tim Aldred, head of policy at the Fairtrade Foundation, said: “Additional exchange rate costs will land on fragile supply chains already struggling from the global cost-of-living crisis.

“Around 10-15% of the UK’s food comes from Africa, Asia and South America, including key products such as bananas and coffee. But many of these farmers and workers live in ‘in-work poverty’, earning well below a living wage.

“The cost-of-living crisis provoked by war in Ukraine, climate damage, and the continuing impact of the pandemic were already placing additional pressure on farmers.”

He added: “If the end market does not absorb this new exchange rate hike, costs could be passed on to consumers or farmers.

“While Fairtrade farmers are protected from the worst effects through commitments to Fairtrade Minimum Price and Fairtrade Premium, they will still be hit by the overall market trend.

“Efforts to accelerate action towards living wages and living incomes, and to address human rights and climate challenges, will be set back.”