WINFA hosts visit of Sainsbury CEO
February 16, 2007
WINFA hosts visit of Sainsbury CEO

Two leading officials of WINFA are among a team of banana officials from the Windward Islands that is this week facilitating a two-day visit to the islands by a delegation from the UK led by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the giant British supermarket chain, Sainsbury’s, the major buyer of Fairtrade bananas from the Windward Islands.

WINFA Co-ordinator Renwick Rose and Manager of WINFA’s Fairtrade Unit, Arthur Bobb, have joined the CEO of WIBDECO, Bernard Cornibert and President of the St. Lucian National Fairtrade Organization, Joseph Hippolyte in discussions with the Sainsbury Chief, Justin King and officials from the Fairtrade Foundation of Britain, led by Executive Director Harriet Lamb.{{more}} The discussions are aimed at ensuring the further expansion of the Fairtrade initiative in the Windward Islands and at assuring farmers of Sainsbury’s firm commitment to purchase Fairtrade bananas from the Windward Islands.

Sainsbury’s is Britain’s second largest food retailer with a 17 percent share of that market. Every week it sells over 16 million bananas and last month announced a full 100 percent conversion to Fairtrade bananas thus guaranteeing greater opportunities for farmers in the Windward Islands and a stronger lifeline for the industry as a whole. In addition to the price benefits for the farmers, Fairtrade has brought in significant sums in social premium, Sainsbury’s alone having contributed close to £1 million sterling to premium payments.

This social premium is being used by Fairtrade groups for impressive social projects in the islands. Some of these were visited by the British delegation on Monday. They include school project – the provision of water tanks, computers for an Infant School and a Learning resource Centre for primary pupils. On Tuesday, the team was expected to visit other social projects, including an autoclave for sterilizing hospital equipment provided to the Dennery Hospital by the St. Lucia Fairtrade Organisation.

These are all part of the social contribution of WINFA’s Fairtrade initiative to rural communities and the banana industry in the islands, an unprecedented endeavour in the entire history of the banana industry in the Windward Islands. Similar social projects have been undertaken by the Fairtrade Organizations under the WINFA umbrella in Grenada, Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.