Local grocer in banana war on supermarkets
Monday 02 November 2009
A two-store grocer in north London will today take a stand against the UK’s biggest supermarkets which are waging a price war on bananas that threatens to do lasting damage to plantation workers in developing countries.
Andrew Thornton, who owns two Budgens in the capital, has vowed to give his profits on bananas in November to Costa Rican workers alongside a campaign, Play Fair, Trade Fair.
His move comes after Aldi, the discounter, drove down the price of a bunch of bananas to an all time low of 37p a kilo last month and kept it there until last week. Asda and Morrisons went down to as low as 38p and 39p, respectively, although all three grocers have now raised their prices. By volume, grocers sell more bananas than any other food item in the weekly shopping basket. The average price of a kilo of bananas has fallen almost two thirds since 2002.
Mr Thornton said: “We are doing this because the situation is ridiculous with prices spiralling onward and downward and no one is prepared to stand up to Asda. I don’t think that consumers really understand the impact of buying cheap bananas. At the moment retailers say they are absorbing the price reductions, but ultimately the price cuts get passed down the chain to the workers in Costa Rica at the end.” He said that workers in Costa Rica have to work 15 hours, six days a week to earn a minimum weekly wage in the country – which is equal to 33p an hour.
The profits made on bananas by Mr Thorntons’ two stores, in Crouch End and Belsize Park, will be channelled by Banana Link, the non-government organisation, to a Costa Rican workers’ organisation, which is struggling to get involved in Fairtrade.
Alistair Smith, the international co-ordinator at Banana Link, said: “The way that Asda and Aldi have led the dramatic banana price wars downward to historically low levels over the past six weeks is irresponsible. In our view, the claims that they are taking the hit at the moment are totally disingenuous because when it comes to the next round of price negotiations with suppliers you know the first question will be: ‘How much sacrifice can you make’?”
Banana Link claims that Wal-Mart, the parent of Asda, has also reduced its banana prices recently. Wal-Mart did not return calls and Asda said that both companies set their prices separately. Mr Smith said the Wal-Mart strategy on bananas is a “potential worry because it could lead to all the value being stripped out from the world banana market, which for all retailers could be suicidal”.
An Asda spokesman said: “We were very clear that we have a certain amount of money to invest that is funded by us not workers. This is absolutely not pushed down to the growers.”
An Aldi spokesman said: “Aldi’s pricing policy is to follow the competitive market environment. We are currently therefore retailing our bananas at £0.49 per kilo. It is the clear policy of Aldi to have a long-term positive relationship with our suppliers and therefore we will not allow market turbulence to have any impact on the growers of bananas”.
Last month (October), Tesco maintained the price of a kilo of loose bananas at 50p and Sainsbury’s kept its price at 46p a kilo. However, in early October Tesco did lower the price of its value pack of bananas to 35p, although it raised them to 47p on 28 October.
Waitrose, which only sells Fairtrade bananas, has warned of the consequences of its rivals driving down the price of bananas.
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
New era of cheap oil 'will destroy green revolution'
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Ukip founder Alan Sked and Nigel Farage 'begged Enoch Powell to stand as a candidate'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
iJobs Money & Business
£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...
£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity h...
$125 - $175 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: Senior Wealth Manager In...
$200 - $350 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: Managing Producer Office...