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Crisp deliberately opts to reduce banana margins

Dutch online-only supermarket takes control of own banana chain

For retailers, bananas are one of their most important fruit and vegetable items. Yet, it is also a high-risk product group regarding abuses in the chain and environmental impact. Dutch online-only supermarket Crisp wants to move away from that. It has taken full control of its banana purchasing. That does come at the cost of the product's margin, admits fruit and vegetable category manager Biorella Hooi.

For Crisp, too, bananas are a top-selling fruit department item. Many supermarkets use bananas, and their low prices, to lure shoppers." We've always been wary of that; we've never had one-euro bananas. Someone else, ultimately, pays the price for that. Nine times out of ten, it's the grower."

Crisp's banana prices are in line with average supermarket prices; it just adds a small hidden cost premium. According to the Supermarketscanner website, those prices ranged from €0.30 per regular banana to €0.40 per organic fairtrade banana in mid-July. The bananas Crisp imports cost €2.19 per five piece-bunch, so €0.44 apiece. That €0.04 more per banana allows consumers to contribute to a more sustainable chain.

"We have open partnerships with all our chain parties, all costs are transparent, and that information is shared. We consider everything, including things like grower prices, CO2 compensation, cultivation logistics and ripening costs, and what we pay for order picking and deliveries. Based on that purchase price, we set a selling price that didn't deviate too far from market prices. That means we sell our bananas with only a slightly lower margin than before. Our ultimate goal is to improve our fruit and vegetable assortment, do better for the world, and offer consumers a tasty, responsible product," says Biorella.

These Crisp bananas replace the regular Turbana bananas and follow up the BeFrank true price bananas. BeFrank, former Chiquita director Franklin Ginus' brand, wanted to make the banana chain fair and transparent, but he stopped with that late last year. "When BeFrank announced its end, we took the opportunity to see how we could source the very best alternative ourselves."

It's a nerve-racking step, especially when logistics costs are rising," says Hay, "and with the euro moving in an unfavorable direction against the dollar. "It may seem like a more complex process, but the benefits outweigh that. We've found an excellent partner in Agrofair, and we'll collaborate closely as chain partners."

Ripening is a vital step for bananas' final flavor. That involves cooperation with a local company. "You can order your groceries two weeks ahead on our app. So much of that ripening is done on insight, while we estimate part of it," Biorella concludes.


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