The history of the banana industry is a nefarious one. Over many decades, large corporations (like Dole and Chiquita), supported by local and foreign governments, have oppressed the rights of farmers and their families by artificially suppressing prices, polluting land and ground water, outlawing labor unions and more. These same multinationals have continuously sold bananas at artificially low prices for the past 100 years. Consequently, U.S. consumers, stores, importers and other stakeholders view bananas as a "cheap fruit" further decreasing the price to farmers.
Much of this price pressure and farmer suppression continues today in banana growing regions unbeknownst to most American consumers. However, there are a number of bold small farmer, fair trade cooperatives that use their collective power to gain resources and clout. The bravery they have shown in taking on powerful multi-nationals allows their communities access to higher wages, health care, education and retirement benefits. This alternative supply chain model is slowly shifting control from the hands of the elite, back to the hands of farmers. To learn more about the troubled history of the banana industry, see suggested reading and links below.
- "Bananas: How the United Fruit Company Shaped the World" by Peter Chapman (available in paperback)
- "Banana: The Fate of the Fruit that Changed the World" by Dan Koeppel (available in paperback)