IEH - Ethical Trading Initiative Norway

Banana Companies: A Corporate Social Responsibility Survey

Report based on a survey focusing on social and environmental standards applied in producing areas of bananas.

Stock at Stake

As the survey was focusing on social and environmental standards applied in producing areas, the information on the origin of bananas is crucial to bear an up-to-date judgment, not only on global policies but also on local management practices. According to the report this information is often missing (complexity of supply chains for major banana companies), and Stock at Stake had to rely then on macro information applying to specific countries (eg. union-busting in Costa Rica, child labour in Nicaragua, environmental legislation in the EU, etc).

Some conclusions from the report:

  • The pressure on companiesí transparency and accountability has started to produce effects.
  • A major problem of the industry is the concentration of mono-culture which leads to a concentration of diseases requesting in turn the massive use of agrochemicals and pesticides.
  • Concerning social issues, major companies officially try to comply with national and international requirements. The monitoring of ILO conventions is the next challenge. Among those conventions, the freedom of association is still a hot issue as unions represent the most efficient way workers have to urge for better labour conditions.
  • The socio-economic dimension of corporate responsibility is developed to an unrivalled level by the fair trade model. It is worth noting that this model is gaining interest and commercial success in Europe.
  • It seems that there is not yet a certification model clearly imposing itself as being the preferred industry choice. There is perhaps room for merging models on the basis of their intentions.