some FairTrade ProducT information

Bananas

Bananas are the favourite fruit in our grocery basket and are grown by millions of small-scale farmers and plantation workers in tropical regions.

Bananas are grown by millions of small-scale farmers and plantation workers in tropical regions. They are the staple food for millions of people in developing countries and the favourite fruit in our grocery basket. 

Bananas are grown both on small family farms and much larger commercial plantations. The banana industry provides employment for thousands of people in Latin America, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, and West Africa. It generates vital foreign exchange earnings that governments depend on to improve health, education, infrastructure and other social services.

The Windward Islands, for example, traditionally earn around a fifth of their total export earnings from bananas alone. For Ecuador and Costa Rica, the figures are around 9 and 8 per cent respectively.  In addition, the industry employs thousands of people in distribution networks and supermarkets worldwide.

The trade in bananas is a cornerstone of many developing countries' economies, but the social problems in the industry are many and complex. Reports about problems in the banana industry often highlight the woefully poor situation of workers: low wages, precarious employment, restrictions on the right to organise themselves and the handling of unhealthy and environmentally hazardous chemicals without adequate protection, to name a few.

For smallholder farmers dependent on growing bananas for a living, challenges abound too – with rising costs of production but stagnation in prices, and the severe impacts of changing climate and weather patterns making production unpredictable and unsustainable.   

Fairtrade works to support both banana farmers and workers employed on plantations. Our vision is to work with the banana trade to create more value for producers and ensure they get a decent price and decent pay for the hard labour that goes into growing our favourite fruit.

Bananas carrying the FAIRTRADE Mark have been produced by small farmer organisations or plantations that meet Fairtrade social, economic and environmental standards. The standards include protection of workers’ rights and the environment and payment of the Fairtrade Minimum Price and an additional Fairtrade Premium to invest in business or community projects.

Our report Fairer Fruit looks at Fairtrade’s impact for banana farmers and workers around the world, and what we can do to deepen that impact. 

Coffee

Coffee is one of the world's most popular beverages and 80% of it is produced by 25 million smallholders.

Around 125 million people worldwide depend on coffee for their livelihoods. Coffee is the most valuable and widely traded tropical agricultural product and 25 million smallholder farmers produce 80% of the world’s coffee. But many of them fail to earn a reliable living from coffee. 

Coffee is well known for being a boom and bust commodity. Global coffee production varies from year to year according to weather conditions, disease and other factors, resulting in a coffee market that is inherently unstable and characterised by wide fluctuations in price. This price volatility has significant consequences for those who depend on coffee for their livelihood, making it difficult for growers to predict their income for the coming season and budget for their household and farming needs. 

The coffee supply chain is complex as beans pass hands through growers, traders, processors, exporters, roaster, retailers and finally the consumer. Most farmers have little idea of where their coffee goes or what price it ends up selling for. The more lucrative export of green coffee – beans that have been processed ready for export and roasting – is only an option for farmers if they can form co-operatives, purchase processing equipment and organise export or hire a contractor to carry out these services. 

Fairtrade was started in response to the dire struggles of Mexican coffee farmers following the collapse of world coffee prices in the late 1980s. With Fairtrade, certified coffee producer organisations are guaranteed to receive at least the Fairtrade Minimum Price for their coffee, which aims to cover their costs of production and act as a safety net when market prices fall below a sustainable level. Through their producer organisations, farmers also receive the additional Fairtrade Premium to invest in business or community improvements. At Fairtrade we care about improving quality, and Fairtrade coffee farmers must use at least 25 per cent of it to enhance productivity and quality, for example by investing in processing facilities. In 2013-14, certified coffee farmers earned an estimated £38.6 million in Premiums that were invested in farmer services and community projects. Watch this video about the impact of Fairtrade coffee.

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