In a move to mark this year’s Fairtrade Fortnight, The Co-operative has announced a new banana sourcing policy, which could be the blueprint for feeding the world’s growing population.
The Co-operative, which was the first to launch Fairtrade bananas into the UK, has now switched all its bananas to 100% Fairtrade, with a unique sourcing model demonstrating commitment to fellow co-operatives and small-scale growers, who between them will supply the bananas on a 50/50 basis.
All of The Co-operative’s bananas are now supplied by fellow co-operatives, 23 of which are made up of thousands of smallholder growers from countries including Peru, Colombia and Ecuador.
Bananas are the most popular fruit in the UK, and The Co-operative sells 230 million bananas a year – enough to circle the globe.
As part of its Ethical Plan, The Co-operative has pledged that if products can be labelled as Fairtrade, they will be, and by the end of 2013, the retailer hopes to be 90% towards this target.
Oxfam, which has teamed up with The Co-operative, believes that smallholder producers, many of which are co-operatives, are the key to feeding the extra two billion people that it is estimated will be on the planet by 2050, despite the gathering pace of climate change and dwindling natural resources.
Together The Co-operative and Oxfam will campaign for increased international investment to help smallholder growers and co-operatives to feed the world sustainably.
Group chief executive, Peter Marks, said:
“Despite the economic downturn, Fairtrade sales in the UK continue to grow, and support for Fairtrade from our own customers and members is as strong as ever.
“The switch to 100% Fairtrade bananas in more than 4,000 Co-operative stores in the UK is a demonstration of this commitment to Fairtrade, co-operatives and small-scale farmers.
“However, having been instrumental in bringing Fairtrade into the mainstream, we recognise the unique role we can play as a co-operative in going beyond Fairtrade and increasing support for our producers to tackle global poverty.
“Our new partnership with Oxfam is an example of this and is particularly timely given it’s the United Nations International Year of Co-operatives.”
The Fairtrade bananas are sourced from a number of countries including Panama, where the retailer stepped in to support the Coobana co-operative of banana workers achieve Fairtrade certification.