We want cheap fruit and veg, all year. No problem. The Pickers deliver, but they are paying the price for us.

The Pickers is a journey to European fields where our fruit and vegetables are grown: in Southern Italy, Seydou from Mali is picking oranges. He has no contract and is paid per crate. He lives in a self-built hut in a settlement without water and electricity.  

Blueberries in Portugal, olives in Greece, strawberries in Spain – one million migrants are currently working in European fields. The pickers are the mobile workforce that fills our supermarkets’ baskets, most of them without contracts or minimum wages, some without papers or with high debts with agents. 

What we see adds a bitter taste to what we eat every day: Our daily fruit and vegetables are rooted in a system of exploitation.

No way out of this system? There is: Pape from Senegal is producing fair oranges in southern Italy: “We don’t want to be seen as revolutionary, we want this to be the new normal!”


A Message from the Team

For the film „Tomatoes and Greed”, Marcus and I were, for the first time, in the fields in southern Europe in 2019 and documented the situation of harvest workers from Ghana. It was a journey into a hidden world: abandoned, half-ruined houses in the middle of fields, surrounded by self-built cabins. No electricity, no water. These were the accommodations where they lived. Work was carried out from early morning until the evening, and the payment would be per crate. So that’s how the people who harvest our Tomatoes lived. 

Back in Germany we did further research and discovered a system of exploitation in many European countries. And a system that looks away, a system of ignorance: instead of allowing legal entry, governments accept that harvest workers fall into the hands of informal networks. Authorities are refusing to provide the urgently needed residence papers for the harvesters. Supermarkets know about violations in their supply chains but don’t act.

That’s how the idea for The Pickers came about. For this film, we documented the worlds of Seydou, Bahija, Kirti and Naveed, who harvest our oranges, strawberries, blueberries and olives.  

We hope that their stories will spark change.

(Elke Sasse)

Elke Sasse (Director)

“My greatest respect goes to Seydou, Bahija, Naveed, Adil, Avinash, Pape and Kirti, who found the courage to share their stories with us despite all the problems. My dream: fruit and vegetables without exploitation.”

Marcus Zahn (Camera)

“The Pickers“ is one of the most intense films I’ve ever made. Without the trust of our protagonists, this film would not have been made.”

Kristian Kähler (executive producer)

“The colourful fruit on my muesli in the morning no longer tastes good now that I know the conditions under which it is picked…”

Janine Dauterich (Editing)

“I love blueberries, but when I see them in the supermarket now, I think of the pickers and don’t buy them. It’s not easy to find fair blueberries.”

Walid Habash (Post-Production)

“During the olive season in Syria, we hosted harvest assistants from neighbouring regions who lived with us like members of the family.
I had high expectations when I came to Europe. Now I learned about pickers being treated so poorly.”

Jonas Seufert (Research Germany, Supermarkets, Supply Chain Act)

“How do we manage to supply millions of people with fruit and vegetables that are fee of exploitation and as regional as possible?”

Bhrikuti Rai (Research and Filming Nepal

“People in Nepal are willing to pay over 10.000€ to go berry picking in Portugal…

Migration policies in a rapidly ageing Europe have created opportunities for intermediaries to profit off of desperation.​”

Soumia Benelfatmi Elgarrab (Research Spain)

“I wish more women would speak up to make a difference.”

Joao Tiago (Research Portugal)

“It’s still a long way to cross towards full dignity protection.”

Lopyang Yasuhiro (Research Portugal)

“Witnessing people’s resilience in pursuing a better future despite formidable challenges is truly remarkable!”

Daphne Tolis (Research Greece)

“Some farmers and migrant workers were somehow suspicious or skeptical when approached at first but with time a strong rapport was developed and this is what essentially made everyone feel at ease when filming took over.”

Ali Shair (Research Greece)

“It was the first time in my life to work in such a documentary production. I hope the film has a positive impact for migrant workers in Greece.”


Daniél Spitzenberg (Colorgrading)

“Sometimes the beautiful colours of fruits are deceptive. They do not tell the story of the hands they were in before they came into our hands. Should these fruits have any colour at all?“