Rainforest Alliance Certified Fruits
The Rainforest Alliance certifies tropical fruits including bananas, pineapple, mango, avocado, guava and citrus.
Transforming the Banana Industry
Bananas are the world's most popular fruit -- and with a market of nearly $5 billion a year, the most important food crop after rice, wheat and maize. They are an economic pillar in many tropical countries, providing millions of jobs for rural residents. But for much of its history, the banana business was known for widespread deforestation, poor waste disposal, the pollution of coral reefs and nearby watersheds and the excessive use of toxic agrochemicals.
The Rainforest Alliance first began working with banana farms in 1990, when production of the fruit was increasing in the American tropics and rainforests were being cut down to expand cropland. Banana plantations were infamous for their environmental and social abuses, which included the use of dangerous pesticides, poor working conditions, water pollution and deforestation. Pesticide-impregnated plastic bags, which protect bananas as they grow, often littered riverbanks and beaches near banana farms, while agrochemical runoff and erosion killed fish, clogged rivers and choked coral reefs. The proximity of housing to banana fields, coupled with lax regulations for pesticide handling, led to frequent health problems among workers and people who lived near farms.
Better Conditions for Workers and Wildlife
To achieve Rainforest Alliance certification, Chiquita reinvented its century old banana farming techniques. Chiquita, Favorita and the many small, independent banana farmers in the certification program planted millions of trees and bushes on their farms to create natural buffers along public roads and waterways, and around housing and offices. The growers eliminated the use of the most dangerous pesticides and implemented rigorous rules -- such as mandatory protective gear, showers at the end of the work day and closing areas where pesticides have been applied for 24 to 48 hours -- for the pesticides they continue to use. The producers recycle thousands of tons of plastic bags and twine per year and reuse the wooden pallets that banana boxes are stacked on, which saves tens of thousands of trees annually.
Favorita created a foundation that now supports more than 30 schools near its farms, benefiting more than 3,000 children. Chiquita has donated dozens of sports facilities, schools and clinics to communities and has donated or sold hundreds of houses to workers for very low prices. Both companies protect significant patches of tropical rainforest: Favorita at its Río Palenque Science Center and Chiquita at the 247-acre (100-hectare) Nogal Nature Reserve, in Costa Rica, which it manages together with the Swiss supermarket chain Migros. Both of those conservation projects include environmental education for farm workers and their families, which is yet another goal of certification.
Today, more than 15 percent of all the bananas in international trade come from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms. All of Favorita's banana farms in Ecuador and all of Chiquita's farms in Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica and Panama are Rainforest Alliance Certified.