Three U.K. retailers back banana growers' futures

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Three U.K. retailers back banana growers' futures

The three British supermarket chains that sell 100% fairtrade bananas have explained the ethics behind their choice to only stock supply farmed by cooperatives from certified programs.

Waitrose, The Co-Operative Food Group and Sainsbury’s form a trio of U.K. food retailers that only stock fairtrade bananas. While other supermarkets do sell a limited number of fairtrade bananas, it is these three that have made the ethical switch completely. shutterstock_154540061 banana sq

Waitrose first committed in February 2007 and maintains its support for the fairtrade system by regularly visiting farmers in developing countries to teach continued best practice.

"We think this is an important commitment because we want to help our growers build and secure a viable business for the future," a Waitrose spokesperson told

"We further support this by working directly with growers to improve their quality and returns. A good example of this is the fact that our team of agronomists spend time supporting farms in areas such as farm management systems, communications and reduction of pesticide use."

Seven years after Sainsbury's commitment, banana farming communities in St Lucia are feeling the positive impact of a fairtrade deal which gives them a guaranteed price for their production.

By 'sourcing with integrity', Sainsbury’s say it is able to provide quality bananas at a fair price to both consumers and farmers. Since 2007 it has contributed more than  £17 million (US$28.43 million) to projects in the developing world through fairtrade projects.

"As the first major supermarket to switch to selling fairtrade bananas in 2007 and as the largest retailer of fairtrade products in the world, we ensure a fair deal for tens of thousands of producers and their communities," said Sainsbury's brand director Judith Batchelar.

"Not all supermarkets are the same and everyone who buys a banana from Sainsbury’s knows the growers are getting a fair price as set by Fairtrade and a fairtrade premium goes to their community."

The Co-Op claims to be the first British supermarket to sell fairtrade bananas back in 2000 but didn't convert fully until 2012. Sourcing from smallholder farmers in Panama, the Dominican Republic, Peru, Colombia, Cameroon and Ghana, the retailer's fairtrade strategic development manager, Brad Hill welcomes any debate relating to the category.

"Today bananas are our single largest fairtrade category in terms of sales value. The bulk of our fruit comes from South American countries and Africa, with a particular commitment to smallholder producers," Hill said.

"As well as fairtrade, we have invested in our own funded projects to support cooperatives, capacity development and social wellbeing.

"We welcome the Fairtrade Foundation’s recent report which provides a valuable insight into issues within the banana supply chain that need to be addressed on an industry-wide basis. We have continued to see annual growth in fairtrade sales since our strategy launch, regardless of the economic climate and the pressure consumers have been under as a result."

Related stories: U.K.: Fairtrade Foundation aims for 'game-changer' campaign

Opinion: the battle for banana livelihoods


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