Fairtrade Foundation wants to screw consumers

Ho hum:

The Fairtrade Foundation is calling on the government to intervene in a banana price war in supermarkets that is putting pressure on suppliers and ,it claims, could lead to shortages.

The foundation, which aims to protect farmers in developing countries, says the price of bananas in UK supermarkets has nearly halved in the past 10 years to just 11p, while farmers at the same time have seen costs double.

As ever they’re failing to see that this economy thing is all about making the consumer the very bestest off that we possibly can.

Or as Adam Smith put it:

Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production; and the interest of the producer ought to be attended to, only so far as it may be necessary for promoting that of the consumer.

And as to what is actually happening in this market:

Gidney said some supermarkets may also be losing “hundreds of thousands of pounds per week” by selling bananas at a loss and called on the government to investigate what he called a “dysfunctional market”, which was not good for farmers, retailers or consumers in the long term.

But the British Retail Consortium denied that farmers were being squeezed.

“The fact that supermarkets are choosing to sell bananas at below margin cost has no relationship to what they are paying producers. Producers are getting a good price and customers are getting a good price as well. Supermarkets sell such an enormous range of products that they can choose to sell particular products at a loss.”

That is, sales of bananas are higher than they would otherwise be without the supermarket subsidies to the retail price. And this bonehead is complaining that banana farmers are losing out because they get higher sales without any decline in price as a result of said subsidy?

19 thoughts on “Fairtrade Foundation wants to screw consumers”

  1. Perhaps the Fairtrade Foundation would be happier if the supermarkets didn’t buy from their exclusive clubs and instead purchased solely from farmers direct?

  2. Would you indulge me here Tim, because I happened to “enjoy” a long debate with the Catholic Justice & Peace commie boneheads on Thursday, which touched on just this point.
    A local campaign on Merseyside (where else?) is urging supermarkets to raise the price of all bananas to Fairtrade prices so that producers’ livelihoods can be “saved”. When asked by someone (for once not me) how they could ensure the extra profit accruing from raised prices went to the producer and not just the supermarket, they replied “Well, I don’t know”.

    We then went on to discuss a dilemma: Do we as consumers shop at Aldi/Tesco because its cheaper or do we spend more at the local shop and help local businesses and local producers. They didn’t take kindly to me suggesting it wasn’t a dilemma; it was a choice. Interestingly, Tesco was evil for undercutting ‘local shops’ (I don’t live in Royston Vasey, honest) but Aldi is good for undercutting Tesco… because Tesco is evil. How Aldi got to be cheaper, how it might be treating suppliers, just doesn’t occur.

  3. Being the tight-fisted baby-eating neoliberal monster that I am, I avoid FairTrade products on principle.

    I don’t want a “fair” trade as defined by some Guardian-reading metropolitan numpty or a muddle-headed do-gooder in a cassock. I want the best quality at the lowest price and assume the other parties involved won’t trade at that price unless they regard it as fair to them.

    But my intent is not to be “fair” to the people I buy from, I just want the best deal. If Tesco or Aldi or Mr Harrid’s corner shop are willing to sell me bananas at a loss, great. It’s not my concern if they are using it as a loss leader or if “the boss went crazy” or whatever. Not for me to worry about the bottom line of supermarkets and their suppliers, I have my own business to mind.

    I don’t see the value in paying more for sanctimoniousness. Obviously some people do, and good luck to them.

  4. So Much for Subtlety

    Ironman – “We then went on to discuss a dilemma: Do we as consumers shop at Aldi/Tesco because its cheaper or do we spend more at the local shop and help local businesses and local producers.”

    Are local bananas an option? I would like to see that.

    I suppose Iceland has done it so it is not impossible….

  5. So Much for Subtlety

    “Are local bananas an option? I would like to see that”

    So, you are asking me to account for their logic are you. What sort of answer do you you expect from me here?

  6. So Much for Subtlety

    Ironman – “So, you are asking me to account for their logic are you. What sort of answer do you you expect from me here?”

    Well next time ask them if they would buy local bananas. I might be thinking of a career change and I have often thought of a relaxing life down on the farm …..

    I wonder if these locavores think of the implications of their turnip and potato diet. Let me politely urge you to ask next time. I mean, what are they willing to give up?

  7. No, next time you turn up and have a discussion with people who adopt this as one of their slogans:

    S.A.S.K: Shopping At Supermarkets Kills

  8. Ironman – Whaaaa? For serious?

    I know Iceland’s customers have a big overlap with guests from the Jeremy Kyle show, but you’re probably not going to be beaten to death with a frozen pizza.

  9. I have a great deal of sympathy for you Mr Ironman. You had that head intersecting concrete feeling, no?
    My debate’s been a long ongoing one with a relative on the theme ” local shops are better”.
    “The produce is fresher!”
    But, says I, Tesco runs a just-in-time logistics system from the on-farm packing station to the store shelf, in one movement. You could be eating lettuce within 4 hours of it being cut. The local shop’s is farm to wholesale market, wholesale market to shop, minimum. Maybe another step or two on the way. The very least two days. How can it possibly be fresher?
    “It just is”
    How do you argue with that?
    Oh & “supermarkets produce more waste”. Despite never seeming to have much waste near the loading bays. Have they never seen the waste clearance operation at close of a big wholesale market? It’s in the lorry-loads..

  10. @ bis
    My butcher sources meat from local farmers. Tesco get it from wherever, shipping times, offload, lorry from port to Tesco distribution centre, offload, computer tells them where to send what, reload onto another lorry, ship it to local Tesco.
    I buy fish in local market, landed previous evening (no fish stall on Tuesday following Bank Holiday Monday). I grew up where the fish stall served fish landed that very morning, fruit and veg stall (the one we used) sourced the veg from their own market garden three miles away, picked/dug up at dawn. No way can Tesco with its computerised systems and centralised logistics match that.

  11. The “supermarkets produce more waste” argument is very frustrating isn’t it. They argued this even as they put up their own slide that showed quite conclusively that that post-purchase houselhold waste accounts for over half of all waste in the UK (Catering Industry/ restaurants, i.e. not finishing the meal we’ve just paid a lot for) accounts for a big junk. Logisitics/distribution accounts for precious little. They argued that supermarkets waste food even as they looked at that slide. My suggestion that waste-in-transit equals loss of profit-in-transit and so wouldn’t happen just didn’t cut any ice at all.

  12. Lefties should love big supermarkets because they employ lots of people, and jobs are a good thing, no?

    The minimum wage shop assistants I see working in Sainsburys don’t look more oppressed by capitalism than minimum wage shop assistants working in small local stores.

    If anything, you’d probably rather work in Sainsburys because there’s a real chance of training and promotion if you’re interested in that, probably more flexibility around working hours and holidays, and less chance you’ll go to the cash machine at the end of the month to find your employer “forgot” to pay you.

    Big businesses are impersonal, that is one of their strengths. Your supervisor at Sainsburys will probably be more forgiving of your Monday morning hangover or ocassional “sickie” than the guy who owns the corner shop.

  13. Lefties should love big supermarkets because they employ lots of people, and jobs are a good thing, no?

    Not if they make a profit Steve! Every penny of profit is a penny stolen from the poor!

    I avoid FairTrade products on principle.

    Me too. A) for the reason you outline. B) because they actively punish farmers who want to grow and invest. Fairtrade should really be renamed “poor in a way we approve of”*

    hate ’em.

    *yes, yes, technically it should be “in a way of which we approve” but this is the guardian we’re talking about.

  14. @john
    Your situation is yours. It’s not going to be the same if you live elsewhere. (Curiously enough, it can be damned hard to get good quality veg in an agricultural area. If it’s not grown locally the supply chain is longer than it is to a city.) Problem is, the localism fanatics say exactly the same as you. Then want to impose their preference on everyone else.
    And do you work? I’m, single with hours that were 7:00am to 8:00pm, 6 days p/w. Shopping for me was 2:00 am much of the time. Don’t find many small butchers open, then.

  15. Sam – Yes, profits are indeed eeeeeevil, unless Apple is making them. But businesses can also be evil by dint of their size rather than profitability: Starbucks is evil even though it makes no profit in the UK for example.

    I’d love to know what the cutoff point is at which point a small, family-run, backbone-of-the-local-community type business becomes a rapacious tool of capitalist hegemony.

    “Fairtrade should really be renamed “poor in a way we approve of”

    David Thompson, of the awesome David Thompson blog, often quotes a revealing paragraph from the Guardian’s George Monbiot:

    It is impossible not to notice that, in some of the poorest parts of the world, most people, most of the time, appear to be happier than we are. In southern Ethiopia, for example, the poorest half of the poorest nation on earth, the streets and fields crackle with laughter. In homes constructed from packing cases and palm leaves, people engage more freely, smile more often, express more affection than we do behind our double glazing, surrounded by remote controls.

    This is a common attitude among the modern left. It’s more than a wee bit racist.

    Also, expecting people on benefits in the UK to claim no more than the average wage, or to put in a few hours work for their benefits, is “ethnic cleansing” and an “attack” on the poor, even though they can still afford mobile phones, booze, fags, and track suits.

    Expecting poor people on subsistence farms in Africa to stay poor forever and live in huts made out of garbage is OK though, because they’re happy. The great white bwana Monbiot knows this because he hears them laugh a lot when he’s around.

  16. I wonder if Moonbat ever stops to consider that the cackles of laughter are directed at the dumb Whiteman with whom they would change places in a heartbeat?

  17. I’ve read the report. In it they say (in small type) that prices of bananas have have risen in Europe and the US, only the UK has the evil price war.No mention discussion why the UK price war would be holding down world prices or why if they could sell to Europe or the US for more the producers don’t (cause they can’t)..

    It is just specious reasoning that because there is a correlation between UK supermarket banana price wars and the price of bananas is not rising globally (not falling even, just not rising) there is a causation. And the solutions they propose – A legal minimum price for bananas as with alcohol or let the supermarkets collude to raise prices! Hang ’em!

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