The farmers who grow fairtrade bananas are small, yes. But the companies trading fairtrade bananas are not anymore. In the beginning they were, but Dole as well as Chiquita have started buying and selling bananas produced on fairtrade farms. For Asoguabo, it means that the competition is getting tougher.
Producers as well as exporters and importers have to be accepted by the Fairtrade labelling organization to enter the fairtrade system. Asoguabo exports its own bananas, and is one of the owners of the import company Agrofair, which imports the bananas under the label Oké. But Asoguabo only exports 55 000 boxes of bananas per week compared to the hundreds of thousands of boxes the multinationals are trading with.
the former secretary of Asoguabo:
-These are big companies with economies of scale. For them, the cost of production, marketing and logistics are lower. The fairtrade bananas are just a small part of all the bananas they’re trading. They can afford to pay the fairtrade minimum price to their producers, and sell the bananas cheaper. They want to do this because fairtrade is a way to attract new customers.
Small import companies like Agrofair can’t afford that. They have to become more efficient and reduce their costs in order to compete.
-That means leaving the small farmers out, because the logistics and production is too expensive.