Green America: Growing the Green Economy for People and the Planet

Fair Trade Banana Push From U.S. Consumers Targets National And Local Grocery Store Operators

Coop America: U.S. Grocers Lag Far Behind EU in Making Fair-Trade Bananas Available to Public;
The "Fair Trade" Focus Does Not Stop at Coffee, Tea.

August 9, 2007

Washington, DC — Tens of thousands of U.S. consumers are being organized by the non-profit Co-op America to pressure major national and independent grocery store operators to follow the lead of European Union (EU) grocers by making “Fair Trade bananas” more widely available.  Information about the Co-op America campaign is available at /takeaction/fairtradebananas/.

The new push for Fair Trade Certified™ bananas is being launched amidst growing concerns about the human rights and environmental records of large conventional banana companies. For example, Chiquita Brands Inc. recently paid a $25 million fine to the US government after pleading guilty to transacting with terrorist organizations in Colombia. 

Co-op America Fair Trade Program Coordinator Yochanan Zakai said:  “The chances are you have heard about Fair Trade coffee and Fair Trade tea, but you probably don’t know about Fair Trade bananas and other tropical fruit.  Even though Fair Trade tropical fruits have been available in the US since 2004, they are relatively rare in the U.S.   In Europe, where Fair Trade fruit has been available since the mid-1990s, sales of such bananas have been growing at a rate of about 50 percent a year. It's time for U.S. grocers to start making available Fair Trade bananas and other fruit.”

Participants in the Co-op America campaign are asked to sign a Web-based letter to major supermarket chains asking for more Fair Trade fruit.  The campaign also seeks to enlist interested consumers in working with a supermarket in their community by sending emails, making phone calls and enlisting other local shoppers.   Past Co-op America consumer action campaign have resulted in the mobilization of 10,000 or more consumers to press U.S. companies for more responsible/greener actions.

As the Co-op America Web site explains:  “Fair Trade means a fair deal for farmers, and a healthier environment for all of us … Through Fair Trade certification, banana farmers earn a living wage that enables them to not only cover production costs but also send their children to school and provide medical care to themselves and their families. Fair Trade premiums are also often invested in programs that teach farmers about recycling, organics, reforestation, and other strategies for building healthy communities.”

The Fair Trade certification standards forbid the use of the most dangerous toxic chemicals and pesticides, protecting workers in the field, and guaranteeing the safety of the bananas in your store. Fair Trade bananas are better for our environment, as they are not genetically modified, and are grown using sustainable farming practices such as, mulching, non-chemical weed control, filtering waste-water, recycling, and safe waste management.

Zakai said:  “The actions of Chiquita are a stark contrast to the family farmers and co-ops who produce Fair Trade Certified bananas on their own land.”

Several independent banana importers – Oke Bananas, Turbana, Albert’s Organics and Jonathan’s – offer Fair Trade Certified bananas that are available to distributors serving U.S. grocers.  For more information on Fair Trade bananas, visit http://www.transfairusa.org.

ABOUT CO-OP AMERICA

Co-op America is a national nonprofit organization founded in 1982, providing the economic strategies, organizing power and practicing tools for businesses and individuals to address today’s social and environmental problems.  For more information about climate change and other environmental and social issues please visit http://www.greenamerica.org.

CONTACT:  Patrick Mitchell at (703) 276-3266 or pmitchell@hastingsgroup.com.


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