Fruit - Fresh, Dried, and Juices

Pablo Araya and Maria Alvarez Zamora, AGRONORTE, Costa Rica, ©James Rodriguez

Millions of small-scale farmers and plantation workers in developing countries depend on the production, processing and sale of fruit for their livelihoods. Globally around 62 million tonnes of major tropical products such as mangos, pineapple, papayas and avocados are cultivated each year.

98 percent of tropical fruit are grown in developing countries, where Fairtrade traditionally supports small-scale farmers and plantation workers. Fairtrade certifies both fresh and dried fruit as well fruit for juices. For a complete list of all types of fruit Fairtrade currently certifies have a look at our Minimum Price and Premium Information.

Fairtrade Fruit Facts

  • Smallholder farmers and workers grow Fairtrade certified fruit on a combined total of 66,200 hectares.

  • Altogether, small-scale fruit farmer organizations and plantations received €1.5 million in Fairtrade Premium payments in 2013-14.

  • Small farmer organizations that cultivate Fairtrade dried fruit have a relatively high number of female members (53 percent). This is the highest rate among all products that are cultivated by Fairtrade small-scale farmers.

Fairtrade Impact for Small-scale Fruit Farmers and Workers

Fairtrade has two different standards for small-scale farmers and plantations with hired workers to address the different circumstances in which both groups live and work. Small-scale farmers are granted more time to comply with some standard criteria, because of the more limited resources they can invest in making adjustments to the standards. They also face challenges producing the volumes required by traders to make sourcing from Fairtrade producers economically viable.

The Fairtrade Standard for Hired Labour organizations extends the benefits of the Fairtrade system to workers employed on plantations.

Most Fairtrade certified small-scale fruit farmers and plantations benefit from Fairtrade Minimum Prices for their products. These prices vary by product, region and cultivation form (organic or conventional), and aim to cover the average cost of sustainable production as well as offer protection from sudden regional or international price drops.

Small-scale fruit farmers and workers receive a Fairtrade Premium, which traders pay on top of the products’ sales price. Small-scale farmers and plantation workers then decide how they want to spend these funds to improve their economic, social and environmental conditions. For example, many small-scale farmers have chosen to use Fairtrade Premium funds to convert their production to organic.

Fairtrade does not set a Minimum Price for fruit types which are certified as Fairtrade for the first time and are only produced on a very small level. Instead, farmers that produce these fruits are entitled to a higher Premium payment, often 15 percent of the commercial sales price. Upon request by farmers, Fairtrade International’s Standard and Pricing Unit looks into the feasibility of setting a Minimum Price for the specific product.

Challenges for Small-scale Fruit Farmers and Workers

Whereas the trade of fresh fruit is both a big and lucrative business for multinational corporations, smallholder farmers and plantations workers suffer under insecure and low sales income and wages. Additionally, small-scale farmers endure rising costs for inputs and processing, partly because of tightening hygienic and aseptic requirements. Fears of food-borne illnesses, but also the fact that many consumers only perceive flawless-looking fruit as healthy, contribute to this pressure. Fairtrade supports small-scale farmers to adopt more efficient cultivation methods so that they can offset rising costs through sustainable productivity gains.

Plantation workers in the fresh fruit industry are often employed without labour contract, receive very low wages and have to work excessive overtime hours. Workers’ attempts to organize and stand up against their precarious working conditions are often met with resistance, for example activist workers are dismissed and cannot find employment anywhere else in the region. Fairtrade works in several ways to support fresh fruit plantation workers. It empowers them to organize themselves better through trainings and via the Fairtrade Premium, whose spending is at their discretion. Fairtrade also requires and monitors that all workers have a contract, receive their wages regularly and have sufficient resting times. Fairtrade actively works within the Global Living Wage Coalition to increase workers’ wages.

The fresh fruit industry is also marked by environmental, and health and safety issues. The high usage of agro-chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides endangers the health of farmers and workers, who are often continuously and massively exposed to these toxic substances. In some cultivation areas tank wagons have to supply the local population with fresh water, because the ground water is too contaminated to be potable. Fairtrade standards require stringent environmental and safety measures to protect farmers’ and worker’s health as well as the environment. These measures include compulsory usage of proper safety protection equipment, a minimized and selective usage of agrochemicals (also see our Prohibited Materials List), and safety trainings for workers and farmers.

General Facts about Fruit

  • To draw a distinction between fruits and vegetables is not easy. For example, botanically a tomato is considered a fruit. However, the United States Supreme Court declared it as a vegetable for tax purposes in Nix v. Hedden in 1893.

  • It takes 13-15 fruits to produce 1 litre of orange juice. Orange juice is the world's most popular breakfast juice, praised for its high vitamin C levels.

  • Drying removes the moisture from food bacteria so, yeast and mould cannot grow on dried fruit. Drying also slows down the action of enzymes that facilitate the ripening process.

  • Due to the lack of liquids, fruit sugar is more concentrated in dried fruit, which makes them taste sweeter. They also contain lots of fibres and mineral nutrients such as potassium.  

  • To slow down the ripening of fruit, you should not store ethylene dispensing fresh fruits such as bananas, apricots, melons and mangoes close to ethylene absorbing ones like apples or watermelons.

Buying and Selling Fairtrade

Fairtrade products are sold in over 130 countries. For more information on Fairtrade near you, visit Fairtrade Near You or select one of the countries in blue on the map below. If you’re interested in selling Fairtrade or sourcing Fairtrade products in your country, see our information about selling Fairtrade.

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