CASE-LOADS of bananas have been given away free to delighted shoppers in Portsmouth city centre to highlight Fairtrade.
And with a couple of inflatable ones for children to play with it was the perfect way to start the campaign.
The aim of Portsmouth’s Fairtrade Forum’s banana giveaway in Commercial Road was to improve the lot of the poorest farmers and workers around the globe.
As she handed out the Fyffes fruit, forum chairwoman Sue James said: ‘Portsmouth is the banana importing capital of the UK so what better symbol of the campaign could there be here?’
About 70 per cent of all the bananas imported to the UK by Fyffes, Geest and Dole, come through the city’s port.
The Co-op will announce this week that it is to make all its bananas Fairtrade, in line with Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, which have already converted their whole banana range. When the Co-op switches its banana supply, 38 per cent of all that sector in the UK will be Fairtrade.
Sue added: ‘Fairtrade products have taken off in the past couple of years.
‘We’re gradually getting the message across that something bearing the Fairtrade logo guarantees farmers and workers are being paid a fair price covering the cost of production.’
Sales of fairly-traded products have bucked the trend of decline in the UK retail market to grow by 12 per cent in the last year.
The value of Fairtrade products sold through shops reached £1.32bn in 2011, compared with £1.17bn in 2010, according to figures from the Fairtrade Foundation,
Unlike other premium sectors such as the organic market, which have lost ground as consumers struggle with the combination of rising food and energy prices and stagnant incomes, the Fairtrade market has continued to expand.
The growth largely reflects a move among major supermarkets to sell Fairtrade goods at the same price as conventionally produced equivalents.
Sue added: ‘Portsmouth is a Fairtrade city, a status it has achieved because of the support given by the city council, the university, schools, shops and many other organisations.’
Gosport, Havant and Fareham have Fairtrade groups and are holding several events throughout Fairtrade Fortnight.
In Portsmouth, from 7pm on Thursday there will be a Middle Eastern evening at which speakers from Zaytoun in Palestine will explain how they produce their Fairtrade olive oil and its importance to their economy.
It’s in the university’s Dennis Sciama Building at Burnaby Road.
And at Havant United Reformed Church, Elm Lane, on March 13, at 7pm, a meal cooked with Fairtrade ingredients will be served.