Bananas Vs Coffee

We visited one of Doles banana Plantations today. Looking at banana and coffees way of production and supply chain is very different.

When we look at coffees supply chain they have various links. It starts for coffee with the Suppliers or producer of the coffee cherries. It then goes to those who roast and market it.  Then from there, it is then sold to us the consumer (or I guess the consumer’s consumer because the supermarket would be the true consumer). However, the bananas supply chain, or at least Doles, appears to be fairly vertically integrated. That is to say, that Dole produces bananas. Washes and process them. Then they market and ship them. For us to then consume them. This removes any middle man and condenses the chain significantly.

Another aspect of consideration when we look at coffee and bananas is sustainable practices. Looking at coffee we see that everyone producing coffee in Costa Rica is considered with how sustainable their operation is. Whether it’s using their own natural compost or using every part of the bean. At Dole, they only seemed to do what was sustainable when it was cost effective. For example, they use plastic bags to cover the bananas as they are growing for various reasons. They recycle the bags but only because it’s more cost effective that way. This is probably due to the fact that most coffee farms are usually small plantations rather than parts of massive corporations. Meaning the bottom line although important to coffee plantations, conservation of the land they own is also a concern. More so than on the Banana plantations.

So if I had to work on one of the plantations it would be on a coffee plantation. For two reasons, one they make it more than just about the coffee they make it about sustainability as well. Two there is greater potential for earnings. A banana plantation worker gets paid 28 dollars a day and also gets housing. While a coffee worker also gets housing, they are paid per Cajuela. So you could earn more than a simple flat rate.

Overall bananas and coffees supply chain and sustainable practices are quite different I hope to learn more with the little time I have left.

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