In the past 10 years, the price of bananas in the UK has halved, whilst the cost of production has almost doubled. It means, says Pinto, that bananas are now bought and sold so cheaply in the UK that many of the farmers and workers who grow them are being trapped in poverty.

The key to effecting change, she says, is unsurprisingly big business but led by their smaller peers. Large companies are often looking to the smaller companies to see how to achieve ethical standards and, “fortunately a lot of these ethical ways of working can often be easily transferable to supply chains”, she says.

If multinational corporations invest in sustainable movements, such as Fairtrade or the Rainforest Alliance, it makes it attainable to the average consumer: “Through multinational buy-in you get a large group of consumers that become aware of it and who then become educated about the issues,” Pinto says.

And, the scalability that major companies can bring to these movements means that with their vast supply chains they can “leverage and amplify” the message. “As the message grows the consumer expects to know where their food comes from, to have that sense of traceability and have that sense of social ethos,” she says.

Pinto’s comments were made in the run up to Fairtrade Fortnight (24th February – 9th March), which this year focused on the banana industry.

In an attempt to raise Government awareness, Ben & Jerry’s, along with Columbian banana farmer Albeiro Alfonso “Foncho” Cantillo, recently visited Parliament to ask the secretary of state for business, innovation and skill (BIS) MP Vince Cable to urgently investigate the pricing tactics of UK retailers on bananas.

Leigh Stringer

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie