Research Department Working Paper n°52

Economic and social upgrading in the Philippines’ pineapple supply chain

Despite several decades of steady growth, Mindanao’s tropical agro-food industry and the pineapple supply chain more specifically are characterized by a relatively large proportion of workers being linked to small-scale production and low-skilled, labour-intensive and poorly paid work. What is the evidence regarding the alignment between economic improvement of the local industry and the quality and terms of employment realized by its workers?

This is a qualitative case study considering the interplay between economic and social upgrading, with a specific focus on changes in employment numbers, terms and core labour rights. The analysis concentrates on the production and first handler tiers of the supply chain for pineapples in the Philippines. The lens is largely focused on the contract and casual work situations, as well as agribusiness venture arrangements for land lease and contract growing, where work can be particularly onerous. It draws on a variety of data sources to answer the key questions of how and why the terms of work have changed within production segments of these supply chains. Findings suggest steady economic upgrading within the local supply chains, but evidence of social upgrading is minimal, particularly for growers and contract workers. There instead appears to be segmented and uneven social upgrading at local levels. Working conditions and terms have improved for regular workers with secure jobs, but they remain a small minority of the overall supply chain workforce. In contrast, the vast majority of the workforce are contract labourers and informal workers, who have seen little improvement, remaining precarious, and poorly remunerated.