- Five free trade companies control about 80% of the conventional banana trade. (Chiquita, Dole, Del Monte, Fyffes, Noboa). Some of these companies have in recent years shown attempts to improve their practices on ethical, social and environment issues. But for the most part these free trade companies profit immensely by producing large amounts of cheap, unblemished bananas while:
- Forcing banana plantation workers to work very intensive and unethical methods of production and are often subject to abuses
- Paying the banana plantation workers very poorly
- Repressing banana worker’s attempts to unionize
- Many plantation are accused of child labor and sexual harassment
- Using large volumes of chemicals harmful to the environment, workers and consumers. Many plantations spray these pesticides while the workers are still working without any protection, causing many health problems.
- These companies often buy from family own farms that have no other markets to sell their bananas, which forces these family farms to accept very low prices for their bananas while production costs keep rising, keeping these farms and workers in poverty.
- Have a long history of bribery and supporting oppressive regimes (Banana Republics), oppressing supporters of human rights and democracy, and involvement in overthrowing a democracy government.
Reference: Peeling Back the Truth on Bananas
Fair Trade Bananas
Many family own banana plantations and cooperatives are working together to create a new type of banana market where:
- Banana workers get paid fair wages, work in ethical working conditions, are not exposed to harsh chemicals and often work in cooperatives that give workers more control over prices and their lives.
- Fair trade bananas plantations have to work to protect the environment by using fewer chemical (Nearly half of all fair trade is certified organic) and disposing of waste properly.
- There is a “fair trade premium” on the price of the banana that funds things like schools, health clinics and farm improvements.
Guide to Fair Trade logos