Organisation says there is a brighter future for banana plantation workers as it launches ‘game-changing’ new offer for traders and retailers

Fairtrade International has launched a major new initiative as it strives to deliver decent incomes for workers on Fairtrade certified banana plantations across the world.

Fairtrade bananas

The organisation’s’s sustainable offer to achieve living wages, living incomes and resilient banana supply chains is being launched at Fruit Attraction in Madrid.

The offer combines three elements – the Fairtrade Minimum Price (FMP), Living Wage Reference Price (LWRP), and Fairtrade Living Wage Differential (LWD) – designed to make both living wages and resilient banana supply chains a reality.

According to Fairtrade, the initiative aims to ensure that banana workers earn as a minimum the living wage for their country, while helping retailers fulfil their commitments to a sustainable banana industry.

More than 35,658 workers and farmers employed by 265 Fairtrade banana producers stand to benefit, the organisation noted.

“Our key commercial partners are increasingly demanding the tools and the data to enable them to fulfil their commitments to pay a fair price so that banana workers can earn a living wage,” said Silvia Campos, Fairtrade International’s senior advisor for bananas. “Our unique offer is a game-changer for workers, traders and retailers.

“Fairtrade is working to strengthen protection for banana producers, workers and their families as they struggle to cope with mounting economic costs, climate change, human rights risks and the need to adopt more sustainable agricultural practices,” Campos continued.

“Despite some slight reductions in the price of fuel and fertilisers, banana producers are still suffering from post pandemic losses. They simply can’t afford to pay higher wages or invest in the future of their farms.”

Fairtrade said it was the only global standard that calculated a publicly available LWRP to enable the industry to close the gap towards living wages.

An elected workers’ Premium Committee on each plantation could also distribute additional cash payments from the Fairtrade Premium – the extra amount earned by selling on Fairtrade terms – to close the living wage gap, it outlined.

The new service allows the easy distribution of voluntary payments from retailers to workers, and the verification and reporting of payment receipts.

Fairtrade has also developed a new banana dashboard with all the necessary data to enable traders and retailers to report progress back to their stakeholders.

At the same time, the organisation has announced an average increase of 0.2 per cent in the Fairtrade Minimum Price for ‘free on board’ bananas (the purchase price for importing traders) which comes into effect from January 2024.

The Fairtrade Premium, the additional US$1 per box of bananas sold, remains unchanged.

“The combination of an updated minimum price and a commitment by many of our major commercial partners is a real cause for optimism,” said Marike de Peña, president of CLAC, the Fairtrade producer network for Latin America and the Caribbean.

“Fairtrade’s unique offer is a win for plantation workers and a win for traders and retailers,” she said. ”I believe this service will lead to more companies sourcing more bananas under Fairtrade terms.”

Campos said that achieving a living wage was only possible if prices were sustainable along each step of the supply chain.

“Fairtrade has taken concrete steps towards closing the living wage gap for banana workers in recent years – including introducing the base wage and Living Wage Reference Price,” she added.

”There’s still a long way to go, but workers on Fairtrade certified banana plantations can now look forward to a more secure future.”