Bananas! 10 Years Later: A Discussion with Award-Winning Director Fredrik Gertten


Bananas are the most popular fruit in the world, yet most banana workers continue to face low wages, precarious employment, and hazardous working conditions. Fairtrade Certified bananas help to correct these pressing social issues by providing stable prices, social premium revenue, and long-term relationships built on mutual respect and reciprocity. 

According to a recent true cost study, Fairtrade Certified bananas were found to have 45% less average external costs than the overall sector. This means that more funds are invested on average in worker health and safety, wages, and social security and decreases rates of harassment.

During the 2019 Toronto HotDocs festival, Fairtrade CanadaEquifruit and WhatsMAD bring you: Bananas! The Movie; a story that follows American-Cuban lawyer Juan Domínguez as he represents 12 Nicaraguan banana plantation workers who suffered side effects from the use on an illegal pesticide DBCP on their plantation in 1982. Although this film is 10 years old, many of the banana industry’s exploitative practices continue.

Following this screening, we will host a panel discussion with the film’s award-winning Director Fredrik Gertten, who is presenting his latest documentary Push at HotDocs. Fredrik will be joined by the Executive Director of Fairtrade Canada, Julie Francoeur and the CEO of Equifruit, Jennie Coleman, to discuss the future of fair trade bananas in Canada.  

“Equifruit is honoured to participate in the screening of this important documentary, which puts a spotlight on the health and safety of people involved in the everyday production of Canada’s most consumed fruit, the banana” says Jennie Coleman, CEO of Equifruit. “We work day and night to advocate for their rights, and to remind Canadians that there is a person behind each banana they eat, and that person has the right to be paid appropriately and to work under safe conditions.”

“Conventional cultivation practices of bananas have negative effects on both people and the environment, and ultimately it is the smallholder farmers, labourers, and their communities who pay the price,” says Julie Francoeur, Executive Director of Fairtrade Canada. “To truly transition towards a sustainable banana sector, these externalized costs must be taken into consideration.”


  • The hidden costs in the banana sector amount to an average of $6.70 USD per box (one box is equal to 40lbs)
  • 60% of the conventional banana sector’s average external costs are social
  • The largest environmental costs are land use, water exhaustion, and climate change
  • Fairtrade bananas were found to have average external costs of $3.65 per box of bananas, an average of 45 percent less than the sector
  • Fairtrade producers see 29 % higher productivity due to a more sustainable production method introduced by the Program of increased productivity (PIP) project

About Fairtrade Canada

Fair trade is an alternative, on-ground approach to conventional trade based on a partnership between producers and traders, businesses and consumers. The international Fairtrade system—made up of Fairtrade International and its member organisations—represents the world's largest and most recognised fair trade system. Fairtrade Canada is a Fairtrade International member and nonprofit organization that certifies, promotes and advocates for Fairtrade.

About Equifruit

Equifruit is a Canadian importer and marketer of Fairtrade, organic produce, mainly bananas and pineapples.  They are committed to putting people first and building strong communities, and value transparency and traceability in their operations.

About Wishing Step Pictures

Wishing Step Pictures (WSP) was formed in 2012 to make films and stage campaigns as a force for social change. Since then, WSP has evolved to include the latest innovations in technology both in its content creation and distribution, and also in creating impact tools intended to provide measurable solutions to the problems canvassed in WSP films.


WhatsMAD is an impact media and campaign platform with an integrated marketplace for ethical goods. 'What's Making A Difference"' provides tools to generate measurable, positive impact across your networks.