Cheap bananas: Farmers Fight Back


Aldi Süd wants to lower the purchase prices, the price pressure on bananas is already high, and now the situation is getting worse. Farmers from South America and the organization TransFair report that Aldi Süd wants to pay less for the fruits.

Producers from Ecuador, Costa Rica and Guatemala defend themselves with an open letter to industry leader Aldi Süd. It is unacceptable and feasible, they wrote.

Aldi Süd also sees great challenges with bananas, but refers to the suppliers when it comes to pricing: "These submit an offer via fixed tendering processes, which not only includes the producer price, but also transport, ripening and packaging."

Because the banana purchase of the group was bundled in 2018 for several countries, synergy effects are to be expected due to the larger quantities. The customer is unlikely to benefit from it: The price of bananas should stay permanently at € 0.99 and € 1.69 for organic Fairtrade bananas.

That the farmers, as they write in their letter, in the future get a dollar less for the box of 18.14 Kg, the discounter does not confirm.

"We take the letters very seriously. It is extremely important to us that our products are produced under decent conditions," says Aldi Süd.

The association TransFair, whose aim is to support disadvantaged producer groups in developing countries, sees it differently: "The price, to which supermarkets in this country offer conventionally traded bananas, corresponds in no way to the real production costs. Livelihood-securing wages, occupational health and safety as well as environmental and climate damage are not adequately taken into account," explains CEO Dieter Overath. Press spokeswoman Claudia Brück added: "It cannot be that the kilo bananas are offered under one euro, cheaper than apples that are grown locally."

Developing organization Oxfam also confirmed that the conditions in the countries are already catastrophic.

A research trip to Ecuador, among others, found that "the workers earn too little to provide their families with adequate care, and at the same time twelve-hour days are not uncommon."

However, the farmers have no choice according to TransFair, they have to harvest, otherwise the fruit spoils.

When the fruit arrives in Germany, it goes to the ripening facilities for six to seven days. The Nürnberg-based company Kupfer & Sohn has 20 such ripening chambers. "When the fruits arrive, they are rock-hard and grass-green," reveals CEO Alexander Merkel.

Markets determine the degree of maturity: "In the summer, the trade tends to want green bananas because they ripen faster in the heat," says Merkel. "In winter they should be yellow."

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