Low wages and union violence tarnish Guatemala’s banana trade

Fresh Fruit Portal

In 2013, Guatemala climbed the ladder of global banana exporters, taking second spot for volume worldwide and overtaking Costa Rica and Colombia for the first time.

The Central American nation enjoys a naturally favorable climate for banana production, enriched by volcanic soils on the Pacific Coast. But beyond that, this coast has also proven profitable for U.S. supermarkets that enjoy the spoils of neglected labor policies and low wages.

An estimated 95% of Guatemala’s exported bananas reach the North American country, where consumers now count on this fruit to remain one of the cheapest items in the produce section.

In exchange for high productivity, Guatemala’s banana workers receive some of the lowest wages in the region, earning less than their fellow industry laborers in Ecuador, Costa Rica and Colombia, explained Banana Link’s international coordinator, Alistair Smith, and International Labor Rights Forum’s senior policy analyst, Eric Gottwald.

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