UK company goes bananas over Fairtrade

Related tags Organic food Organic certification Fairtrade

The latest Fairtrade products to hit the UK market are organic
bananas, distributed by the British arm of Dutch company AgroFair.
The fruit is already being sold in one of the leading organic
supermarkets there.

AgroFair UK​, a Fairtrade fruit company, has announced a new, high quality supply of organic Fairtrade bananas for the UK market, with London-based organic retailer Fresh & Wild among its first customers.

The fruit, which is branded Eko-Oké and carries the international Fairtrade Mark, is being imported from the Valle de Chira banana growers' co-operative in a poor region of northern Peru. It is currently being distributed by two organic wholesalers - Organic Distribution Ltd (ODL) in London, whose customers include Fresh & Wild, and Norwich-based growers' co-operative Eostre Organics, which supplies customers throughout East Anglia and London.

AgroFair UK director Duncan White said: "Customers at Fresh & Wild and our other outlets will be getting the best of both worlds, with bananas which are good for the environment and grown without pesticides - and which give producers in the Third World a fair deal."

Dot Bane, project and development manager at Eostre Organics, added: "We are delighted to be able to offer a product that is not only organic but is also grown under Fairtrade conditions, as this dovetails so well with the principles of our own organisation."

A sentiment echoed by ODL's Paul Cole: "Our customers are already showing a great deal of interest in this product."

The new supply of bananas reflects the increasing demand for organic produce among UK consumers. Peter Bradford, marketing director at Fresh & Wild, said: "Our customers regularly ask for both Fairtrade and organic foods. Now we have Eko-Oké Peruvian bananas in store, everybody benefits."

Bananas are the biggest selling item at Fresh & Wild's six stores across London. A seventh store is due to open in Bristol later this year.

The co-operative supplying the bananas unites around one hundred small-scale organic banana farmers on the north coast of Peru. Most of the population in the area - the province of Sullana in the department of Piura - live in poverty, and almost all depend on agriculture to make a living.

The farmers in the co-operative worked very hard to achieve organic certification. As the local market cannot pay a premium for certified organic produce, it is the Fairtrade system that enables the farmers to get a fair return for their produce and security and hope for their families.

The Peruvian banana co-operative was formed recently with the support of AgroFair, which helped the farmers obtain Fairtrade certification. AgroFair has also bought a local export company, Biorganika, on the growers' behalf. The co-operative will gradually take over complete ownership of the export company as business develops, thus giving it more control of the supply chain.

AgroFair is a Fairtrade firm owned by fruit growers in Burkina Faso, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Ghana, Mexico and Peru. The growers are represented on AgroFair's board and receive all profits not ploughed back into the firm.

AgroFair imported the UK's first Fairtrade bananas in 2000, the world's first Fairtrade mangoes in 2001 and the world's first Fairtrade pineapples last year. All of its fruit carries the international Fairtrade Mark, the consumers' guarantee that the growers receive a fair price for their produce.

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