Moves last week by Asda and Morrisons to slash the price of bananas were branded shockingly irresponsible by development charities today. They say the price cuts are a serious setback in the ongoing battle to improve the appallingly poor conditions endured by plantation workers in the developing world. Campaigners fear that other supermarkets will follow suit and slash prices.
Jenny Ricks, ActionAid campaigner said, "Asda and Morrisons are guilty of dealing in double standards. Plantations can't live up to retailers' demands for decent working conditions if they hammer down prices like this. This move only highlights the need for the new supermarket watchdog proposed by the Competition Commission which is stongly opposed by both retailers."
While supermarkets say they will absorb the cost of the price cuts, there are no guarantees that they will stick to their promises. Previous rounds of price reductions have shown that ultimately it's workers who bear the brunt.The fresh salvo in the ongoing supermarket price war was launched by Asda, who dropped prices from 87p to 78p per kilo, which were quickly matched by Morrisons.
Alistair Smith, co-ordinator of the campaign group Banana Link said, "This is another blow for plantation workers and small farmers who thought that supermarkets had finally understood the consequences of pushing down prices. The move also flies in the face of evidence that most consumers want to know that the products they buy are not traded at the cost of decent wages and conditions in developing countries."
The supermarket giants announced the price cuts in the run up to Fairtrade Fortnight next month, which showcases a world record Fairtrade banana eating attempt. British shoppers now spend over half a billion pounds annually on the fruit, with Fairtrade bananas making up a quarter of total sales.