All around him, Franklin Ginus of BeFrank Bananas, see various parties taking the initiative to achieve viable living wages. These are from companies in the banana sector for people in that sector. The former Chiquita director, nevertheless, has his doubts about the way in which this is happening. "There is talk of 75% living wages in 2025. What about the next five years?" he asks.
This is precisely the reason Franklin started BeFrank Bananas last year. BeFrank Bananas is a new banana label. Its goal is to help make the world honest and liveable. If all goes well, the first BeFrank bananas will be packed this week. These should be in Dutch and Belgian greengrocers' shelves by week 9. "We want to do things very differently."
"We want to start a revolution in the banana market. This will be more far-reaching than Fairtrade alone. We want to work in an entirely transparent manner. This is not usually done in the fruit and vegetable sector. Our prices will be fully transparent. Everyone can, therefore, see what we pay our chain partners. They can also see what the final customer gets out of it in the end. In doing so, we work with a fixed price with everyone," says Franklin.
"For us, Fairtrade is a basic certification. We think everyone is entitled to an honest wage. That does not only count for the producers, but also, for instance, our ripening partners, importers, or those providing logistics. That makes our bananas the first in the world to include 100% of the hidden costs. This is shown in its social and environmental price".
"After all, sustainability goes far beyond just a product's price. Think of soil pollution or trash alongside roads. There is a lot of mention of the TR-4 banana fungus. Its prevention is, however, still lacking. Say you, as a consumer, come to a banana plantation. You have to go through a gate and take a footbath. But the entire plantation is not fenced off. We think a lot more preventative measures need to be taken. We include these hidden costs in our pricing, and work with that," explains Ginus.
"We work with smaller farmers in Ecuador who use micro-organisms. We, therefore, supply regular bananas with all the BeFrank Bananas sustainability initiatives. We also have an organic variety available. Clients who take these have a very distinctive product."
Soon, the first greengrocers will start selling the first European BeFrank bananas. That will be from the end of February. They will be supplied via three Dutch wholesalers. They are Gebrs van Aarle, Postuma AGF, and Willem Dijk AGF. "These business owners are daring to make a difference," says Franklin.
He has not yet entered into any contracts with a retailer. "Everyone is super interested until they see the price. That is why we need a hero who will dare to start with bananas that should cost €2,49/kg. We will then get the chance to make the banana chain truly more sustainable."
"BeFrank Bananen are not expensive. Other bananas are simply far too cheap. It is, after all, not so difficult to take responsibility. And to make a choice that reaches beyond today. Real sustainability can only happen if we work together. So, the heroes of Europe and the world - show yourselves. We are ready for you," the BeFrank bananas' frontman concludes.