Latin America’s banana industry has slammed the Rainforest Alliance certifying body for being out of touch with today’s market realities. According to representatives of the sector from Ecuador, Colombia, Costa Rica and Guatemala, which account for a combined 65% of the global banana crop, Rainforest Alliance has failed to consider their opinions when developing certification criteria. Producers claimed that the latest standard published two weeks ago contains crucial differences with the 2019 rules and was not the result of due consultation.
At a meeting between the representatives of the sector and Rainforest Alliance, the main issues of contention related to the significant challenges facing the region, such as the economic impact of Covid-19, TR4 and Black Sigatoka. The representatives also complained of the pressures from European retailers to impose lower and lower prices. It was also pointed out that the Rainforest Alliance rules do not take into account the social and environmental regulations imposed by individual governments, and that this inclination to regulate in parallel causes inconsistencies in the whole chain, not to mention that it is a sort of regulatory anomaly. Moreover, the decision to ban the use of drones has also been questioned.
The meeting ended with Rainforest Alliance committing to convene working groups between their representatives and Latin American producers. Producers are calling for the RA to delay the enforcement of the new standards until January 2022.