Honduras: Fair Trade USA decertifies Fyffes' melon producer Suragroh for non-compliance

In November 2018, Fair Trade USA received evidence which alleged violations at the Suragroh melon farm in Honduras, which employs 3,700 workers. The farm had gained Fair Trade certifcation in April 2018.

Following an investigation into the allegations, Fair Trade USA found Suragroh to be in non-compliance with several Fair Trade standards covering wages and benefits, worker health and safety, and freedom of association. In December 2018, Fair Trade USA officially decertified Suragroh, revoking its Fair Trade certificate. 

In December 2018, the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Fyffes to respond to the decertification of its melon producer, Suragroh. Fyffes' response is included below. 

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26 March 2019

Fyffes expelled from ETI over failure to address alleged labour abuses at melon plantation in Honduras

Author: Paul O’Donoghue, The Times

"Union row costs Fyffes its ethical recognition", 25 March 2019

...The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), a UK state-funded body that promotes workers’ rights, yesterday announced that it had terminated the Irish fruit multinational’s membership due to concerns over the treatment of workers at a melon plantation in Honduras.

Peter McAllister, the ETI’s executive director, told The Times that Fyffes was the second company to ever be expelled from the body in its 21-year history.

The company was expelled due to the ETI’s concerns about freedom of association. Mr McAllister said that workers at the plantation, which is owned by Fyffes, faced barriers when attempting to join a local union called STAS...


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17 December 2018

Fair Trade USA decertifies Suragroh melon farm after audit

Author: Fair Trade Certified

"Update: Fair Trade USA Announces Decertification of Suragroh Melon Farm After Audit", 14 December 2018

The Suragroh melon farm in Honduras has officially been decertified and its Fair Trade certificate revoked... This decision follows a thorough on-the-ground audit and investigation that confirmed non-compliance with several Fair Trade standards covering wages and benefits, worker health and safety, and freedom of association...

On November 28, Fair Trade USA received new evidence from trusted sources in Honduras which alleged recent violations... at the Suragroh farm. Given the severity of the allegations... we moved quickly to suspend Suragroh’s Fair Trade certification... while the reported issues were investigated.

... the audit team conducted a thorough investigation of the allegations and the overall compliance of the Suragroh farm with Fair Trade standards... the report confirmed critical violations...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...

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Company response
15 December 2018

Fyffes' response

Author: Fyffes

Statement from Fyffes (15 December 2018)

Fyffes is disappointed by Fair Trade USA’s decision to decertify the Suragroh Melon Farm in Honduras. The health, safety and wellbeing of our workers are our primary concern.

Fyffes received a copy of the 64 page report from Fair Trade USA late Friday night so we are still working through the detail. 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. Fyffes remains committed to the highest ethical standards, robust certifications or ethical audit programmes 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.


4 December 2018

Honduras: rights groups call for Fair Trade USA to decertify melon farm over alleged labour abuses

Author: International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF)

"Fair Trade USA Certifies Labor Violations as “Fair Trade” in Honduras", 29 November 2018

A coalition of unions, farmworkers, fair trade advocates, ethical businesses and retailers is confronting Fair Trade USA (FTUSA), a US-based fair trade certification agency, for ignoring human rights abuses and its own standards in certifying a Honduran melon grower with a long history of violations. In an open letter sponsored by the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF)... the coalition is calling on FTUSA to adhere to its own standards and take immediate action to decertify Suragroh, a fully-owned subsidiary of multinational fruit company, Fyffes.

...The open letter, which identifies the FTUSA standard’s shortcomings and lack of commitment to farmworkers, is the result of months of engagement and correspondence by ILRF. It is available to read here...

The well-documented violations... include failure to pay minimum wages, exposure of workers to hazardous agrochemicals, illegal firings of pregnant workers, blacklisting, harassment, and illegal dismissal of union members...

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