Even though it may seem as if Dole can do no wrong in being the world’s largest fruit importer, they might not be that great after all. Because Dole bananas in New Zealand are packaged with an “Ethical Choice” sticker, Oxfam New Zealand investigated whether these bananas were true to their word, and they made some interesting findings.
Oxfam reported that Dole banana plantations in the Philippines allegedly abuse labor laws, working children of ages 15 and under for over 12 hours a day, paying them less than minimum wage, and harassing workers out of joining unions. Additionally, they found large amounts of sprayed aerial pesticides that could both harm the workers and cause significant environmental damage.
Oxfam had released their first report questioning the truth of this sticker last year, but Dole executives quickly hushed the story. Since then, Dole applied to trademark these self-made stickers, leading to an additional Oxfam investigation that went public. Dole plainly discredited the report, while New Zealand’s manager Steve Barton stated on Tuesday that their stickers were not intended to dupe consumers, but Dole will discontinue them in the future “to avoid any controversy and distraction to our business.”
Just recently, Dole agreed to meet with Oxfam to discuss these highlighted issues, in order to uphold their long history of leadership on labor and environmental issues. While the public voiced their concerns and has begun to buy fair-trade certified bananas instead, Dole is still proud of their company. Barton assures consumers that they “will continue to uphold the highest standards with or without the ethical choice label.”