Supply Chain
of »Bananas«

Learn how bananas reach the stores of REWE Group: Where are bananas grown? What challenges do banana farmers face and what does PRO PLANET have to do with them?

Dr Klaus Mayer, the Head of Quality Assurance at REWE Group, talks about REWE Group's supply chain in an interview

To the interview

Banana Cultivation

The first links of the supply chain are the cultivation and harvesting of bananas. Once the fruit has been planted, it takes 10 months to 13 months to produce harvest-ready bananas. At this stage, bananas are still green, but have already developed their distinctive curved shape. The fruit is packed after harvest. In this process, features like size and the condition of the peel are inspected. The fruit is then washed.

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Industry-related challenges


  • The use of pesticides and fertilizer
  • Pest and fungal infestations, particularly in monoculture farming
  • Deforestation and destruction of biotopes, threat to biodiversity


  • Compensation below the breadline
  • Violations of human and labour rights (prohibition of unions, child labour)
  • Poor occupational safety conditions, including health threats from exposure to pesticides
  • Threat to potable water supplies

What we are doing


REWE Beste Wahl bananas and Chiquita bananas bear the PRO PLANET label. The condition needed to receive the PRO PLANET label is certification under the SAN standard of the Rainforest Alliance, an organisation that promotes environmentally conscious and socially responsible banana farming and harvesting methods. The criteria include

  • The controlled use of pesticides
  • Training, medical checkups and protective clothing for workers
  • A statutory minimum wage
  • A package of actions designed to protect and nurture biodiversity

REWE Group has reached a binding agreement with farmers that includes a pledge to meet a large number of additional criteria that the standard views as optional. These criteria include regular medical checkups and special training for people who work with pesticides.

Banana Fund

The Banana Fund established by REWE Group finances social and environment projects with a total budget of 600,000 euros in 2015 (2014: 300,000 euros). Two focal points of the fund's work are support programmes for children and adolescents and protection of biodiversity. An advisory board consisting of REWE, Dole, Chiquita and Caritas Costa Rica decides how the fund's financial support will be used. The implementation of the projects and the orderly use of the money are monitored by the German organisation Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit International Service (GIZ-IS) GmbH.

Organic Bananas

The cultivation of organic bananas is assured by a number of environmentally conscious production methods, including:

  • Strict rules governing the use of pesticides and fertilizers with a positive effective on workers' health
  • A prohibition of genetic engineering

World Banana Forum of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation

REWE Group is an active member of the World Banana Forum of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation, a dialogue platform for banana-production stakeholders and the sales chain that addresses the social and environmental challenges faced by the banana industry

SA8000 (Social Accountability 8000)

Some banana plantations have been certified in accordance with the labour- and human-rights standard SA8000, which monitors compliance with minimum social standards at producing companies

The REWE Beste Wahl brand with the PRO PLANET label:
About 60 per cent of the bananas come from Costa Rica, about 30 per cent from Ecuador
and approximately 10 per cent from Colombia. The percentage can vary from year to year.

million tons of bananas are produced
each year around the world.


Bananas must be transported overseas very quickly to prevent them from ripening too early. The transport by refrigerated ship takes two to three weeks. During this journey, the bananas are chilled to a temperature of 13 degrees Celsius to stop the ripening process.

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45per cent
of all CO2 emissions associated with
banana production are created by shipments to Europe.
1.3 kg CO2
One kilogram of bananas imported
to Europe produces 1.3 kilograms of CO2
Banana exports worldwide in thousands of tons
Ecuador Philippines Costa Rica Guatemala Colombia Rest of the world
2011 5200 2100 1900 1500 1900 2900
2012 5000 2500 2000 1700 1800 3000
2013 5100 2800 2000 2000 1600 3400
16.5million Global export record for bananas in 2012

Industry-related challenges


  • CO2 emissions caused by the overseas transport and chilling of bananas. The transport is done by ship or container.

Ripening Chambers

The bananas are placed in a ripening chamber at the end of the journey. The ripening process is brought into motion again by raising the facility's temperature to 14 to 18 degrees Celsius. The bananas are yellow and aromatic four to seven days later. At the beginning of the ripening process, the fruit is treated with a ripening gas, ethylene, which most fruit produces on its own while ripening anyway.

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The ripening process for the bananas is
completed four to seven days later

Industry-related challenges


  • Energy used to heat and chill the ripening chamber

Logistics / Distribution

The fruit is transported from the banana ripening chamber to a logistics centre and is then shipped to REWE Group stores.

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Industry-related challenges


  • Transport-related greenhouse gas emissions
  • Spoilage

What we are doing


Reducing the use of resources by employing optimised logistics (see Smart Logistics)

REWE Group Stores

In the final step, consumers purchase the fruit at REWE Group stores – either directly in the store or through the delivery service.

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Per capita consumption of bananas in Germany is about eight kilograms
80per cent
More than 80 per cent of bananas sold in REWE stores bear the PRO PLANET label. Ten per cent are organic, and 9 per cent are entry-level bananas

Industry-related challenges


  • Demand is subject to seasonal fluctuations, creating the risk of overproduction

What we are doing

Environment & Social

  • REWE Group informs and raises the awareness levels of customers with the PRO PLANET label and the PRO PLANET website

All figures that do not apply specifically to REWE Group were obtained from widely available business publications.

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