Banana producers in the Windward Islands say trade is improving after their emotional plea for support.

In the summer, the Windward Islands' Banana Development and Exporting Company (Wibdeco) said the region's economy risked collapse unless more Fairtrade bananas were bought by British buyers. Its exports have plunged 500% since the rationalisation of tariffs forced by Britain's EU membership. But Wibdeco now expects UK exports to rise 4% to more than 61,000 tonnes this year.

"British shoppers are showing their support for Fairtrade. We have converted 100% of our production to Fairtrade in the past year and that has effectively brought us an increase in prices," said spokesman Simeon Green. "And Tesco and Sainsbury's are trialling loose Fairtrade bananas in selected stores.

"Wibdeco is trying to get Fairtrade products into the mainstream and I think this is a good way of doing it."