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The Cost of Bananas

Posted by helen 
The Cost of Bananas
August 03, 2016 12:53AM
This Radio NZ story on bananas horrified me.
It makes me so sad to think of our lack or care and respect for workers but what is the answer?
I buy Allgood bananas in the belief and hope that they have good ethics in business.
Bananas will be the tip of a big ugly iceberg for sure, we already know about fashion sweat shops.
It seems so difficult to know how to shop and what choices to make.
Re: The Cost of Bananas
August 03, 2016 05:56AM
Thats interesting, but it doest state the companies make billions in revenue so simply they are not paying the workers fairly, but that is the issue within that country and it is their fault. Imagine if NZ stopped importing bananas - this would make the situation worse. Its awful - I completely agree, but I am not sure us as consumers can resolve.
Re: The Cost of Bananas
August 04, 2016 04:03AM
I think we can make a difference by purchasing All Good Bananas or those with Fair Trade labels.
If enough people do this it will then hopefully put pressure on the big companies to make some changes.
Re: The Cost of Bananas
August 04, 2016 05:45AM
Helen I hope you don't mind but I disagree. I may very well be wrong here. This sounds harsh, but the reality in a lot of the third world countries is that the working conditions are harsh and for very little pay. This has always been historically the case - no matter what was being produced.

We can make ourselves feel better sitting here in NZ by only purchasing Fair Trade - but really, do you think it will make a difference to these countries? They are just going to find other markets, or if they don't, we are harming the pittance of an income, but in the end it is an income, the workers receive.

And I would rather see a low income family here in NZ purchase any type of bananas or fruit - if the mass produced ones are all they can afford. I have no idea what the cost is of these All Good Fair Trade ones - I see they are stocked in NW and PnS, but I don't think I have seen them. But if they are expensive, isn't it better that a low income family at least purchase bananas/fruit that they can afford, then not purchase any bananas/fruit at all - at least they are eatng fruit!

I think some things are leaning towards salving our own conscience - and we are willing to pay more for a product to make ourselves feel better. But in the end the harsh reality is, it makes no difference to the ones we are trying to help.

Another thought - producers always are the ones that receive a pittance. I remember when we were rabbit farming, and the rabbit meat was exported overseas (this is a good 25 to 30 years ago now). I was the one receiving the least money but putting in the most labour, and incurring the highest costs of feeding rabbits and associated cost increases. The middle man and the end supplier - made bigger profits then I ever did. I was the start of the line, and the start of the line is the one that fares the worst.

Maybe I am wrong, but these are my personal thoughts.
Re: The Cost of Bananas
August 04, 2016 11:13AM
Alexia Santamaria visited a Fair trade banana plantation in Ecuador and was impressed by their sustainable methods of farming and also of the schools and welfare system set up for the employees and their families.
All Good do the same.
Surely this is better than the multi nationals e.g Dole who just go in and take what they can without a conscience of giving anything back?
If we had banana companies doing the same as Dilmah tea does for their staff in Sri Lanka then surely that would be better than what is currently happening?
I am interested to hear what you think on this as I would like to believe it can be different.
Re: The Cost of Bananas
August 04, 2016 10:42PM
Irene I ,too, would rather that low income families had food to eat. I also agree with nearly all your post. We forget that NZ is a very small country in the world so what we do has very little influence on other countries although we like to think we do.I also think that we should focus on helping our own citizens first.
Re: The Cost of Bananas
August 04, 2016 11:34PM
I am not denigrating what the Fair Trade companies do, which is excellent. But in the end it is all profit driven, which is why companies exist - to maximise the bottom line that their shareholders receive. So they are going to do whatever they can to boost that bottom line. A harsh reality in a harsh world I guess?
Re: The Cost of Bananas
August 05, 2016 02:50AM
What stands out for me is "cut your coat according to your cloth". If you can afford to shop and pay more for a product that you hope will be of benefit to those who are struggling, then that is your choice.
I try to buy wisely along those lines but having once been secretary for a voluntary family budgeting and advisory organisation I understand the other point of view. Some simply do not have that luxury of choice.
Plates has a good point about workers being exploited. I often wish I wasn't so cynical but my view is that the same situation of exploited workers can and does happen here. It is only legislation that tries to deal with the unscrupulous.
Re: The Cost of Bananas
August 05, 2016 09:07AM
While of course I don't want to see people here unable to afford food, I also do not accept that those in 3rd world countries have to suffer horrific conditions due to our demands and the greed of global companies. I actually think they would be better off on their subsistence living than being exposed to the chemicals that these companies are spraying and working terrible hours for a pittance.

With those atrocious working hours comes a breakdown in family life and probably their culture will be changing as well.

With enough pressure change can happen, as Apple were forced to do when their slave labour was exposed in 2012. I still don't think it is perfect but it is better than it was and only due to the pressure of the people.

It is not always a luxury of the middle class to choose a more expensive sustainable option, if you look at the fashion industry some of the cheaper brands e.g. Cotton On, have a great rating whereas more expensive brands e.g. Peter Alexander have a rubbish rating.
Surely there are those in the food industry that don't necessarily charge more for doing better.
My personal goal is to find them and support them.
If the world rebelled against big companies like Dole they would be forced to change....

Just my Friday night ramble and I am very open to other views. smiling smiley
Re: The Cost of Bananas
August 05, 2016 10:41AM
I took note this afternoon of the cost of my bunch of Fair Trade bananas. It cost $4.99 for six large bananas. Less than $1 each. There is a useful parallel here with the free range egg situation, eggs and bananas are both top quality food, even with the cost increase for free range/Fair Trade they are still a bargain when you think about the nutritional value, and I believe we should all do what we can to support fairness and transparency in food production and distribution. The cost of fair trade bananas is minimal compared with the costs of processed convenience food which has little nutritional value and is often deleterious to human health.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/05/2016 10:42AM by TPANDAV.
Re: The Cost of Bananas
August 11, 2016 05:08AM
Info from Helen's link:
New Zealand imports 72 million kilograms of bananas per year and around 70 percent of that comes from the southernmost island of the Philippines.

An 2014 report by Oxfam New Zealand found the men on these plantations were regularly working with chemicals labelled as the herbicide Paraquat, which has been banned across the EU since 2007; insecticide Lorsban, which was banned in US homes in 2001; and insecticide Furadan, currently banned throughout the EU and on food crops in the United States. All the plantations surveyed were exporting to New Zealand.

Info from Fairtrade bananas website
Good for the Land, Good for You
El Guabo's small plantations in Ecuador believe in sustainable farming and biodiversity. The cooperative do not use any of the hazardous agro-chemicals listed in the dreaded 'dirty dozen' and Fairtrade standards ban the use of over 120 chemical commonly sprayed on fruit.

Reason enough alone to buy Fairtrade bananas............
Re: The Cost of Bananas
September 04, 2016 12:23PM
Helen I'm 100% with you on this one. And since Fair Trade bananas are now stocked in all three of our supermarkets there's some competition, and it's not uncommon for them to be on special at one of the supermarkets. Obviously the more demand there is for Fair Trade items the more this is likely to happen. (And incidentally, Forest and Bird are about to launch their 2017 'sustainable fish choice' guide, which will be available as a smartphone app.)
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