Completely bananas

OK, so Asda has cut the price of bananas. Cue people going bananas about this. How will the workers be able to live at these prices and so on. Best bit:

The Fairtrade Foundation has attempted to protect smaller growers by setting a minimum guaranteed price paid to its farmers. The system seemed to work with many shoppers prepared to pay a small premium to buy Fairtrade bananas. Sainsbury and Waitrose even switched all their bananas to Fairtrade – which means they have had to absorb big hits to follow Asda\’s price-cutting lead.

\”We know shoppers are concerned about ensuring that farmers and workers are treated fairly, and want to do the right thing,\” Crowther said. \”Seven in 10 say they will buy products on these principles if they are slightly more expensive.\”

So, err, what are you worried about? We have two different products. Plantation bananas which Asda are selling or 38 p a kilo. Then we have Fairtrade bananas which are being sold for £1.10 a kilo. If people are willing to pay more to ensure that suppliers are being \”fairly treated\” then they\’ll buy the more expensive ones, won\’t they?

If they actually don\’t give a tinker\’s cuss about the producers then they won\’t.

What we\’ve got here is a test of your contention: that people care. So why are you worried, surely it\’s good to have empirical proof of your contentions?

And no good hiding behind the \”slightly more expensive\” either. Either they care enough to pay or they don\’t.

7 comments on “Completely bananas

  1. Just as there is no such thing as Society, there is no such thing as the Market: just people making decisions. Shopping is a form of daily democracy, cutting through the humbug.

  2. Fairtrade is a racket. The portion passed on to the growers is negligible. And Fairtrade coffee is swill. Here in Costa Rica, I drink astounding coffee made by Britt, which pointedly refuses to have anything to do with the shakedown artists of Fairtrade. 100% SHB Arabica, at a good price, and the growers don’t have a bunch of pseudo-green conmen in their way.

    Besides, the best way of getting people out of dumb, back-breaking things like agriculture into more productive efforts is to let the market do its job.

  3. It’s worth reading the ASI’s report on Fairtrade:

    http://www.adamsmith.org/blog/globalization/unfair-trade-20080225957/

    From the executive summary:

    • Fair trade is unfair. It offers only a very small number of farmers a
    higher, fixed price for their goods. These higher prices come at the
    expense of the great majority of farmers, who – unable to qualify for
    Fairtrade certification – are left even worse off.

    • Most of the farmers helped by Fairtrade are in Mexico, a relatively
    developed country, and not in places like Ethiopia.

  4. As a Regimental Cynic Major (Senior Grade) might I add that that the real reason could be Fairtrade are concerned this might just expose them to be fibbers when it comes to their claims that 70% of customers think Fairtrading is the way to go.

    At the most generous level it might reveal a form of poll biasing once described on Yes, Minister:

    Attractive girlie approaches male shopper about to pick up some unfair trade bananas. “There are millions of poor banana growers starving in the third world. ” Huge sigh that moves her bust impressively. “Surely you care about them.” Puppy dog eyes and slight tremble of the lip. What bloke isn’t going to say: “Of course I care about them” before selecting some expensive banans from the next shelf? As soon as he can he’ll change back to cheap and cheerful, but polling totty doesn’t care, she’s got a tick in the “right” box as per client instructions*.

    Less charitably one might suspect that Fairtrade simply haven’t done any polling at all and pulled that 70% number from someone’s bottom.

    *You’d need to replace the buxom pollster wench with a hunky but caring bloke for women shoppers obviously.

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