December 15, 2006

WINFA gets bigger market for its bananas in UK

The Windward Island Farmers Association (WINFA) has welcomed the decision of the giant Sainsbury’s supermarket chain of Britain to convert its entire banana range to 100 percent Fairtrade purchases.

“It is the biggest ever commitment to date by a single company anywhere in the world and has very positive implications for Fairtrade banana farmers in the Windward Islands,” said Coordinator of WINFA, Renwick Rose.{{more}}

Sainsbury has been purchasing commodities under the Fairtrade label from the Caribbean. This has been beneficial to banana farmers who are facing declining access to preferential markets in Europe. The Fairtrade movement, also known as the trade justice movement, promotes the use of labour, environmental and social standards for the production of commodities, particularly those exported from the Third World and Second World to the First World.

“The news is especially gratifying for banana farmers in these islands as continuing efforts are being made to erode or wipe out their preferential access. Panama and the United States of America have just joined Ecuador, the world’s largest banana exporter, in launching yet another challenge in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against the new banana regime, implemented only this year. Columbia has also joined the challenge. In addition, the European Commission has proposed reducing further the volume of bananas permitted preferential treatment,” Rose said.

However, under Fairtrade, the benefits to the farmers go beyond the actual purchase. They are guaranteed a stable price as well as a social premium of US$1 per box which is to be used for the important social projects in the islands.

“In light of these increased opportunities, WINFA calls on the governments for the Windward Islands to ensure that Fairtrade farmers get all the necessary support to increase production including the provision of inputs on a timely basis and above all complete the long-overdue restructuring of the industry to place greater responsibility in the hands of the farmers and their organizations,” said Rose.

Sainsbury sells 1,000 bananas per minute, 2,000 tonnes or 10 million bananas per week and the switch to 100 per cent Fairtrade provides unprecedented volume to Fairtrade sales and will make Sainsbury’s share of the rapidly expanding Fairtrade market in the UK larger than all the other major supermarkets in the UK combined.