Supporting sustainable and ethical food production is a key part of FreshDirect’s mission. We’ve taken this another step further by partnering with Equal Exchange to be the first east coast online retailer to sell their organic, Fairtrade bananas, which are sourced from three small farmer cooperatives in Ecuador and Peru.
This relationship is a new milestone in our efforts to work with producers that are working to make a difference and are committed to impacting society and the environment in a positive way. Equal Exchange is a pioneer in this regard: they have been a leader in the Fairtrade movement for decades, helping small-scale producers gain a foothold in competitive marketplaces.
Although Equal Exchange Fairtrade bananas may seem ordinary, their story is unconventional in every sense of the word. The difference is in a business model that puts people over profit. Equal Exchange works with regional, democratically-run co-operatives comprised of small farms to ensure that all members are paid fair, standardized prices for their fruit. Additionally, the co-ops receive premiums that are used to fund projects that support the well-being the farms, their members, and their communities.
The co-operative system stands in contrast to conventional supply chain relationships, which give small farmers fewer chances to access the global market. Most banana companies rely on large-scale production, packing, and shipping for efficiency and have complex distribution networks that lengthen the journey between the farm and the consumer. Small, independent producers would likely not be able to meet the volumes required to sell bananas for international export nor would they have the power to negotiate a favorable price, thus restricting their sales to local markets and smaller profits.
By forming co-operatives, these farms not only are able to join forces to create shipments large enough for export, they also benefit from price stability rather than the inconsistencies of dealing with supply chain middlemen. Working with Equal Exchange and engaging in a direct trade system puts more money back into the hands of farmers and reduces the number of intermediaries involved in getting bananas from the farm to your FreshDirect order.
Fairtrade monetarily benefits farms and laborers, but even more impressive, perhaps, is its potential to positively contribute to the welfare of their surrounding communities. Equal Exchange’s partner co-ops give their members an equal say in how to use the money received from Fairtrade premiums and have supported projects as wide-ranging as business development, soil health, recycling, healthcare, education, and women’s entrepreneurship.
When you buy these organic bananas on FreshDirect, $1 from each bunch goes back to Equal Exchange’s small farm co-op partners. You can find them year-round in on FreshDirect, where they’re one of many great ways to support sustainable and ethical food production.
Watch the video below to learn more.