When the idea of conversion of the conventional banana trade to a more sustainable system under the Fairtrade label was first raised in the Windward Islands in the late 1990s, there was much scepticism about the viability of the idea.
At that time the global banana industry was in the throes of a massive international dispute within the WTO concerning the European banana import regime which was causing havoc in producing countries. In the United Kingdom market where multinational retailers had gained the upper hand suicidal price wars were galvanising what became infamously known as ‘the race to the bottom’.
In that context the fledgling international Fairtrade movement faced major challenges if it were to succeed in its lofty aims. Most crucially, the questions being posed were: Will it work? What impact would Fairtrade have on living standards, particularly for small producers, being rapidly squeezed out of the industry?
The Fairtrade Foundation has published its own summary and response to the recommendations.