Asoguabo can’t sell all its bananas to fairtrade buyers, because the demand for fairtrade and organic bananas is too low compared to the worldwide supply. So the association is selling its bananas to local companies as well, and the organic fruit is being sold as cheaper conventional fruit under the fairtrade label.
-The demand for fairtrade bananas has remained the same while we have increased our production, says general manager Lianne Zoeteweij.
It’s hard for Asoguabo to sell more fairtrade fruit because of the competition from plantations and transnationals that can sell fairtrade fruit at a lower price.
-The consumers can choose to buy from small producers by looking at the sticker next to the fairtrade sticker. The brand Oke means that the bananas come from the importer Agrofair or Oke USA which buy from small producers, says Zoeteweij.
So why is it better for Asoguabo to sell to fairtrade buyers than on the spot market? Because the fairtrade buyer pays the premium which is used for improving the farmers’ lives. And because, in the time of year when the market price starts to go down, the fairtrade price will be higher.
The fact that all the farmers’ fruit can’t be sold as fairtrade is nothing new. The demand has always fluctuated, and what Asoguabo hasn’t been able to sell to the fairtrade market, the farmers themselves have sold to other companies.
-But this year Asoguabo has assumed the responsibility of selling all the fruit, to show that we are united, says quality manager Marco Oviedo.
Asoguabo’s goal is to increase the production from 55.000 to 100.000 boxes per week in 2011.
-Larger volumes means better logistics and lower costs of exportation, and more farmers will benefit from Fair Trade. We want to encourage our farmers to grow in order to be competitive, says Oviedo.
Fairtrade sales up despite financial crisis
So far, the fairtrade sales overall have not decreased. The Fairtrade labelling initiatives believe ( in this press release) that the demand for fairtrade products will keep growing in 2009, despite the crisis.
”The vast range of Fairtrade certified goods and wider availability means that consumers can still remain loyal to Fairtrade even while switching to other brands”, FLO writes in a press release.