Fair Trade USA has decertified Suragroh melon farm, a Honduran division of Fyffes.
The decision came after a four-day audit that was prompted by allegations of violations of Fair Trade USA standards, according to a news release. The audit included interviews with more than 120 seasonal and full-time workers, farm management, local union representatives, government officials and others. Auditors also reviewed numerous documents.
Fair Trade USA issued its decision after receiving the audit report Dec. 12.
“This report confirmed critical violations of several Fair Trade standards covering wages and benefits, worker health and safety, and freedom of association,” the organization wrote in the release. “The severity of these findings led both the independent auditor and Fair Trade USA’s certification department to decertify Suragroh and revoke its Fair Trade certificate, effective immediately. There is not, and will not be, any Suragroh fruit sold with the Fair Trade Certified seal.”
Fyffes is disappointed by the decision of the organization to decertify Suragroh, the company wrote in a statement.
“Fyffes received a copy of the 64-page report from Fair Trade USA late Friday night so we are still working through the details,” the company said. “However, we commit to working with local management on the issues raised by Fair Trade USA to quickly resolve them and achieve recertification. Exports of melons from Suragroh are not scheduled to commence until mid- to late January.
“Fyffes produce will continue to be supplied from its other Fair Trade USA certified farms,” the company said. “Fair Trade USA decertification of Suragroh will have no impact on our commitment to the highest ethical standards, robust certifications or ethical audit programs that operate across our supply chain. Fyffes will continue to have frequent internal and independent Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audits (SMETA), which verify that working conditions meet the ETI Base Code.”
Suragroh had first received Fair Trade USA certification in April after more than a year of working to implement practices consistent with social, environmental and labor standards of Fair Trade USA, according to the organization. Suragroh then sold small volumes of certified fruit in April and May.
Fair Trade USA first heard reports of labor rights violations and lack of compliance during the summer, but since most workers are not present during the offseason, the organization decided to wait to investigate until seasonal workers returned in December, according to the release.
Fair Trade USA said it appreciated the cooperation of Suragroh management and workers along with other stakeholders during the course of the audit.
“In the interest of the farm’s workers, we hope that this decision will motivate Suragroh’s management to engage deeply with its workers and the stakeholder community to make the necessary corrections to come into compliance with Fair Trade standards,” the organization wrote.