So fair, so sweet…what else? - Marijke D'Haese

Allow me to take you on a journey into the future. Fall 2050. We are in a supermarket. At the fruit display, we search for the sweetest pineapple. All pineapples on the stack look the same; their colour is a mix of green and yellow; they are of the same size, and their crowns count the same number of equally positioned leaves. We seldom go shopping. We have become used to have our groceries delivered to our doorstep as we are subscribed to the shop-as-you-fly-drone service.

In our fully equipped kitchen, the sensor monitoring our fruit basket flagged the lack of pineapples and added it to the grocery list. This list is now projected on our virtual retinal display, and we know exactly what to buy. We shop locally while the pineapples were imported from their tropical production area thousands of miles from here. Globalisation and trade wars are gone; the world is one and all local. Our pineapples are sweet, they smell nice, and they are fair. Fair, yes, because the people working on the production sites get paid a fair monthly wage. They have a fixed contract, and they work reasonable shifts. They benefit from social protection and decent working conditions. The farmworkers are legally protected from exploitation as international agreements on labour conditions are put into practice. They do not fear contamination as the pineapples are produced according to sustainable practices; of course, we expect no less. The plantations are surrounded by trees and forest patches in which biodiversity is restored. An environmentally friendly alternative replaced the paraquat. Once harvested, the pineapples are washed using recycled water, stacked in bio-degradable containers and, shipped by CO2 neutral planes.

It may seem a far future, but our research at the Department of Agricultural Economics of this faculty aims to contribute to realising this future vision. We search to improve our understanding of how production systems, food networks, and consumer choices can contribute to fair trade in sweet and safe food products and an equitable future of farmers and farmworkers in the Global South. With our results, we intent - or at least hope - to influence stakeholders, managers, plantation owners, importers, and policy decision-makers that all pineapples in our supermarket displays are equally fair and sweet.

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