Fair Trade USA has decertified a Honduran melon farm owned by Ireland-based produce company Fyffes, saying the entity was non-compliant with several of its standards.
It said that a “thorough on-the-ground audit and investigation” confirmed issues at Sur Agrícola de Honduras (Suragroh) related to wages and benefits, worker health and safety, and freedom of association.
Suragroh was awarded the certification by the U.S. non-profit in April this year.
Fair Trade USA said that during the off-season last summer, trusted stakeholders contacted it and expressed concerns about alleged labor rights violations and lack of compliance on the farm.
Since 90% of the workers are not on site during the off-season, it said it decided to investigate these concerns once the seasonal workers returned in December.
“On November 28, Fair Trade USA received new evidence from trusted sources in Honduras which alleged recent violations of Fair Trade standards at the Suragroh farm,” it said.
“Given the severity of the allegations and the new evidence provided, we moved quickly to suspend Suragroh’s Fair Trade certification on November 30 while the reported issues were investigated.”
On Dec. 5, Fair Trade USA says it launched an unannounced audit of the Suragroh farm through an independent, third-party auditor. During the four-day investigation the audit team investigated the allegations and overall compliance of the Suragroh farm with its standards, interviewing more than 120 workers, farm management, local union representatives, government officials, and other relevant stakeholders.
It also reviewed documents, including ones from the International Labor Organization (ILO), US Department of Labor, Honduran Department of Labor and STAS farmworker union.
“On December 12, Fair Trade USA received the auditors’ report. This report confirmed critical violations of several Fair Trade standards covering wages and benefits, worker health and safety, and freedom of association,” Fair Trade USA said.
“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 (December 14). There is not, and will not be, any Suragroh fruit sold with the Fair Trade Certified™ seal.”
It added that it hoped 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”.