Cans of Del Monte pineapples on sale in Iceland in June 2024
19.06.24 Environment

Morrisons and Iceland still stocking Del Monte pineapple from farm linked to killings

Violence has continued on the brand’s Kenyan farm in the year since TBIJ uncovered numerous alleged killings

Morrisons and Iceland are still selling pineapple from Del Monte’s plantation in Kenya, a year after revelations of numerous alleged killings on the farm and amid a fresh wave of violence in the area.

In June 2023, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) and the Guardian revealed allegations of brutal violence perpetrated by Del Monte guards at the company’s Thika farm over the course of a decade. The allegations included six deaths.

Violence has continued on the farm in the year since, including the deaths of four men whose bodies were retrieved from a river in December. More recently, clashes between police and locals have resulted in bystanders being hit with stray bullets.

Three UK supermarkets – Tesco, Asda and Waitrose – stopped selling pineapple products from the farm following last summer’s revelations. This month, Sainsbury’s confirmed that it is no longer supplied by Del Monte Kenya.

However, both Morrisons and Iceland continue to stock canned pineapple products that are produced at the farm in Thika.

The 80 sq km farm sits on the border of Murang’a and Kiambu counties, northeast of Nairobi. Unemployment is widespread in the area and many locals resort to stealing pineapples from the farm, which has prompted clashes with Del Monte guards.

The scale of the violence and its impact on the local community was captured by the UK law firm Leigh Day in a letter to the company. It detailed 146 alleged incidents involving 134 people that included numerous beatings and injuries, and five allegations of rape.

Following this, Del Monte commissioned social audit company Partner Africa to conduct an assessment of human rights at the farm in the weeks after publication of the first TBIJ/Guardian investigation. The report concluded that the farm was causing major human rights abuses to the surrounding community.

Del Monte products on shelf in Morrisons in June 2024 Morrisons stocks a range of Del Monte products, including canned pineapples Emily Goddard

Among the report’s recommendations was an overhaul of security. In March, Del Monte announced it had fired 214 guards and brought in security contractor G4S.

Recently, however, violent confrontations have broken out in nearby villages as pineapple thieves have clashed with the farm’s new G4S guards and local police.

At least six people – including three bystanders – sustained gunshot and rubber bullet wounds in a series of incidents that followed raids on the plantation at the end of May.

Felister Wairimu was shot on her balcony Edwin Okoth

Witnesses told TBIJ how pineapple thieves were chased out of the farm by G4S guards and into surrounding highways and villages, backed by the police who fired bullets and set off tear gas.

Felister Wairimu, a mother of five, was hit in the back of the neck by a stray bullet while on her balcony in the village of Makenji. She was treated at a local hospital and discharged the same day.

“This violence is now spreading to our homes – even when we have nothing to do with pineapple stealing,” her husband, Henry Ng’ang’a, told TBIJ.

A spokesperson for Morrisons told TBIJ it was urgently investigating recent allegations of violence, adding: “We have been regularly monitoring the implementation of the human rights impact assessment action plan and the comprehensive remediation plan with Del Monte.”

Iceland did not respond to requests for comment.

G4S Kenya said its guards never carry weapons and had been “expertly trained in de-escalation techniques, human rights considerations and in the minimum use of force”. A spokesperson added: “Our security officers are stationed at the farm only and have no involvement in activity that may occur outside its boundaries.”

Del Monte and the Murang’a county police did not respond to TBIJ’s requests for comment.

Header image: Canned Del Monte pineapples on the shelves in Iceland in June 2024. Credit: Emily Goddard

Reporter: Grace Murray and Edwin Okoth
Environment editor: Robert Soutar
Deputy editors
: Katie Mark and Chrissie Giles
Editor: Franz Wild
Production editor: Frankie Goodway
Fact checker: Somesh Jha

Our Environment project is funded partly by Quadrature Climate Foundation, partly by Hampshire Foundation and partly by the Hollick Family Foundation. None of our funders have any influence over our editorial decisions or output.