Environmental and social justice pressure group Co-op America is launching a campaign to urge major grocery retailers to make Fairtrade bananas more widely available in their stores.

The organisation wants US retailers to follow the lead of their European counterparts in embracing Fairtrade bananas and other fruit.

The group’s Fairtrade coordinator Yochanan Zakai believes there is still a lack of consumer awareness about fairtrade bananas.

“The chances are you have heard about Fairtrade coffee and Fairtrade tea, but you probably don’t know about Fairtrade bananas and other tropical fruit,” Zakai said. “Even though Fairtrade tropical fruits have been available in the US since 2004, they are relatively rare in the US. In Europe, where Fairtrade fruit has been available since the mid-1990s, sales of such bananas have been growing at a rate of about 50% a year. It’s time for US grocers to start making available Fairtrade bananas and other fruit.”

Co-op America said it was launching its campaign “amidst growing concerns about the human rights and environmental records of large conventional banana companies”.

Participants in the campaign are asked to sign a web-based letter to major supermarket chains asking for more Fairtrade fruit.

At a local level, Co-op America is also looking to enlist consumers to lobby a supermarket in their community by sending emails, making phone calls and recruiting other local shoppers to the campaign.