You may have noticed these black and white scrambled squares popping up on all sorts of products recently. From outdoor advertising to shampoo bottles, QR (Quick Response) codes are finally taking off in New Zealand. Simply scan them with your smartphone and you’re taken to a portal of extra information about the product — be it text, photos or a website. Now Kiwi company All Good Bananas has taken the technology and given it an ethical twist by using it to connect shoppers with the growers of their fruit — the first time the technology has been used in such a manner in New Zealand. Teaming up with development agency Tomorrow, who assisted with the prototyping and delivery of a QR mobile website initiative, All Good is hoping the scanning initiative will help differentiate it from cheaper brands in what is a very crowded supermarket environment.
Using the barcode technology, smartphone shoppers can see where their bananas come from and meet the farmers who grow them. By simply snaping a picture of the QR code at the banana bin, users can hear directly from the grower about their bananas, their farm and the benefits they’ve seen since joining a Fairtrade cooperative.
“People want to know where their food comes from,” said All Good director Simon Coley. “We wanted to connect them directly with the person who grew their bananas. To show, if they choose Fairtrade, that the bananas they put in their shopping trolley are making a huge difference for small farmers on the other side of the world.”
According to All Good, most banana plantation workers don’t earn enough to live and support their families. Some earn less that $3 a day. This hasn't stopped companies and supermarketsfrom making large profits form the bananas. To keep prices low – and profit margins high – farmers and plantation workers at the bottom of the supply chain don’t get much in return. All Good said this pressure inevitably leads to lower wages, longer hours, and deteriorating working conditions for the growers.
Working directly with farmers in Ecuador, All Good is making good by offering farmers a lifeline through Fairtrade. This is made possible by an agreed stable price, which covers the cost of sustainable production and enables them to provide for their families.