Dutch buyers association collects data from all banana suppliers to see if living wages being paid

Superunie and its banana suppliers have collected information. That is concerning the current wage status and how it differs from living wages. So this Dutch purchasing group reports on its website. "We have obtained all data from all farms. That is in cooperation with Tropical Fruit Export (TFE). We can now determine whether a living wage is paid on all of them. Should there be a gap between the current and living wage, we will work with TFE to see how we can close it," the site says.

"We get our bananas from Ecuador, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic. Annually, we buy about 36,000 tons of bananas from two suppliers. They are Tropical Fruit Export (TFE) in Ecuador and Fyffes in Colombia (roughly 95%), and the Dominican Republic (around five percent). We have been working with both parties since 2010. We buy directly from TFE. These bananas come from about 20 banana plantations."

"In Colombia, our supplier, Fyffes, works with two grower organizations, Uniban and Banasan. Their bananas come from some 350 banana farms. Both suppliers know the plantations' names and locations. Our bananas are shipped to Rotterdam [in the Netherlands]  and Antwerp [in Belgium]. After the bananas have ripened, they are taken to our members' distribution centers," the report explains.

"We are global chain partners. So, we can make a difference in reaching sustainable trading. That's why we have identified bananas as one of our key products. And all our bananas bear are Fairtrade or RainForest Alliance certified. But we go a step further: we want banana workers to earn a living wage. There have been past initiatives to improve wages in the major banana exporting regions. But these have been slow to take off."

"The chain is complex, and individual parties often have limited influence. Our suppliers and we are now looking locally in countries of origin. So, we gain a better understanding of the current situation. And have a better grip on what we can do together to improve banana pickers' income," the article continues.

Why extra attention on bananas?
"We are actively seeking cooperation throughout the chain.  We want to achieve a living wage for our banana laborers. We want to know our chain. We want to know where our bananas have been grown. And by whom, under what conditions. In this way, we can not only do business sustainably and transparently. We can make a difference too. We talk openly to our suppliers about plantation workers' salaries. That is not something you can for granted. Mutual trust is crucial."

"We have a good relationship with our banana supplier TFE. Thanks to that, we gained insight into banana pickers' wages in Ecuador. This transparency enables us to take genuine joint action. We can improve banana workers' income. We are taking other first steps with Fyffes too. We want to get an overview of Colombian banana farm laborers' current wages," the organization states.

"The banana chain is convoluted. It is usually unclear where exactly value chain suppliers get the bananas. Or they what do to ensure living wages. Or what the plantation workers earn. Talking openly about the income levels paid to chain workers is not a given. But we have long-standing relationships with our suppliers, TFE and Fyffes. We can, therefore, discuss this sensitive subject."

"When those partnerships began, both suppliers were Fairtrade certification forerunners. That showed that they deem social compliance important. TFE and we have been able to set up a direct sourcing process. That is from the country of origin. So, the chain is short and transparent. We have been working transparently with Fyffes, too, for a long time," the website states.

Source: Superunie

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