The Fairtrade Foundation has rejected the idea of an across-the-board recommended retail price for Fairtrade bananas, claiming it would be open to legal challenge.

The recommendation was one of 10 made in ‘Fairtrade Bananas: A Global Assessment of Impact’, a report that was actually commissioned by the foundation.

Alongside higher productivity and cutting costs, an rsp could help increase producer returns, claimed the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex in the report.

However, the foundation argued in its reponse that an rsp would contravene domestic and EU competition law. “While we welcome suggestions on ways to increase returns for all actors in the supply chain, the specific call for a single rsp applying to all Fairtrade bananas is not implementable”, it said.

Article 101 of the Treaty of Lisbon categorically prohibited any agreement or decision by an association that directly or indirectly fixed purchase or selling prices or stated any other such conditions, it said.

The foundation did, however, support the IDS’s recommendation for more regular reviews of Fairtrade Minimum Prices. The first price revision since 2005 had been implemented in January 2010, with two revisions since, last year and in January.

Other recommendations by IDS included giving preference to small producer organisations when granting Fairtrade certification. However, this was rejected by the Foundation as “neither practical nor in line with our principles of non-discrimination and commitment to improving workers’ rights”.

Foundation executive director Harriet Lamb, welcomed the report’s “categorical” finding that “Fairtrade farmers and workers earn higher and more stable incomes, and as a result are less vulnerable to poverty”.