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Following the lead of their Latin American colleagues

Open letter from African banana producers to supermarkets

The matter of the purchasing prices of bananas by supermarkets has been in the media for several weeks now. After a protest by their Latin American brethren, now the African fruit producers have drawn up a statement as well.

It reads:

While the international controversy over the purchase price of banana boxes by supermarkets in 2019 is growing for several weeks, we, African fruit producers, want to express our solidarity with the approach of our Latin American colleagues and competitors and, in our desire to move towards a fairer world and trade, draw attention to the continued deterioration in the conditions under which our fruits are purchased. By asking for a further decrease of nearly 9% in the purchase price of banana boxes in 2019 and even more decline in the price of pineapples, supermarkets demonstrate their lack of understanding of fruit value chains and indifference to the socio-economic challenges of the world's fruit producing regions, a situation which is too common in the sector.

We solemnly wish to join this call from our Latin American colleagues and competitors because we share with them this concern to see the sustainability of fair and sustainable economic models, taking into account the interests of all stakeholders, rather than a perpetual spiral of blind competition. A fair purchase price for bananas must make it possible to recover the cost elements that contribute to and to promote an equitable sharing of the fruits of labour. It also needs to give to its actors the resources to invest in the transformation and continuous adaptation of their integrated economic, social and environmental model.

The Banana industry lead investments in African rural communities through education, health and housing infrastructures and promotes on a continuing basis the pursuit of good cultural practices. In this way, we contribute to sustainable and inclusive economic growth that truly benefits all stakeholders.

However, supermarkets do not seem to be concerned about these crucial aspects in their supply policy for bananas and another fruits. Yet consumers, who are first and foremost citizens, are increasingly sensitive to the societal issues related to the products they buy. In addition, public authorities, whether European or African, are committed to building together the foundations for sustainable and shared growth between the two continents.

By constantly driving prices down, supermarkets have the power to precipitate the destruction of an African industry that creates wealth and jobs in Côte d'Ivoire, Cameroon, Ghana and other countries on the continent. In Côte d'Ivoire, Cameroon and Ghana, the banana industry provides more than 28 000 direct jobs and 50 000 indirect jobs, with a considerable impact on the development of rural areas. For young people and women in these regions, the banana industry represents a rare opportunity to access unskilled and skilled jobs, offering decent pay and opportunities for professional advancement in their own countries without having to resort to the pursuit of greener pastures in Europe and elsewhere.

This problem, which affects the world's largest banana producers in Latin America, is even more acute for us, small-scale producers, whose models are more sensitive to price variations. These pressures lead to a continuous squeeze on market share and threaten the survival of any diversity in competition and choice for consumers of bananas every day.

Excessively low prices are by no means fair prices, and citizens and public authorities are the first to be aware of this. That is why we call on all stakeholders - public authorities, banana companies, supermarkets, consumers - to sit down around a table and agree together on a fairer, more sustainable and more humane price.

It is through common sense initiatives on key issues that we can all do our part to support good business models, reduce the widening of inequalities and the North-South divide and enable a more equitable world to emerge.

The signatories

Mr. Joseph Owona Kono, President of Afruibana

Mr. Jean-Marie Kakou Gervais, Vice-President of Afruibana

Mr. Anthony Blay, Vice-President of Afruibana


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