Towards living wages in the banana sector

In 2021, a large group of German retailers – joined in the German Retailers Working Group on Living Income and Living Wages – have signed a commitment to ensure living wages for everyone that is involved in growing bananas that are sold in German supermarkets. With Greenyard Fresh Germany, we are now taking the lead in a pilot project for the sector-wide implementation of this commitment. As a connecting partner between growers and retailers, we see it as our responsibility and our duty to ensure that everyone in the chain receives a fair reward for their hard work.”We decided to follow the definition of the Global Living Wage Coalition for this project. First of all, it is important to make the distinction with minimum wages, which are a purely legal requirement. A living wage entails much more than that. It is defined as a predictable, fixed remuneration for one standard week of work, not including overtime. It takes into account everything that is needed to lead a good life: healthy food, clothing, housing, healthcare and education for workers and their families, all based on the actual living standards and market prices in the regions where our farmers are active.

We collaborated closely with several of our suppliers and farmers to determine the gap between the actual wages being paid today and the living wage as we have defined it. The next step was to translate this wage gap into the price of the bananas that people are buying in their supermarket. From their side, the retailers have agreed to pay this up-mark, which will also be integrated into future tendering procedures.

We believe it is very important to take a leading role in pioneering projects such as these and learn first-hand about the practical implications. It is one thing to have suppliers sign a charter, but it is another thing to put everything in place and make sure the workers actually benefit from it. As we are implementing the living wages in the contracts with our suppliers, we will also be following up the actual progress in the field, which will also be verified by an external company. Our ultimate goal is to make sure that workers and their families can really feel the difference in their daily lives. We can only do this if we are supported by our customers and consumers who in the end pay a slightly higher price for these bananas.