Sustainable Trend Requires Education Efforts

Sustainable Trend Requires Education Efforts

Organic, Fair Trade and other sustainable solutions remain popular with banana companies, and companies continue the education efforts needed to promote those programs.

Mayra Velazquez de Leon, president, Organics Unlimited, San Diego, says even conventional banana growers tend to strive for better sustainability.

“It might not be that they are totally moving toward organics, but they try to use more sustainable fertilizers and fumigations,” she said.

Dennis Christou, vice president of marketing for Del Monte Fresh Produce, Coral Gables, Fla., says they have seen an increase in consumer interest for these types of products as well.

“The supply for Del Monte organic bananas is excellent, and the demand has increased substantially. Consumers continue to have a keen interest in organic bananas,” he said.

That interest translates to a willingness to pay a higher price for organic, Fair Trade or similar labels.

Consumers can expect to pay around an additional 20 cents a pound.

“That price increase may be worth the peace of mind to some consumers who choose to incorporate organic foods into their lifestyle,” said Marion Tabard, Turbana’s marketing director.

Complementing each other

However, companies haven’t noticed competition between the two brands.

In fact, they complement each other.

“Many retailers want to give their shoppers the option between conventional and organic, so they will offer both at display,” Tabard said.

For Organics Unlimited, the choice to be more sustainable means organic and Fair Trade products.

The company is working to promote its Fair Trade and GROW label bananas for Fair Trade month, which is October.

September was the company’s GROW month, in which it promoted its GROW brand, which stands for Giving Resources and Opportunities to Workers.

The program funds educational and health programs for banana operation workers and their families.

To promote these events, the company offered banana bags and posters, both of which are accessible to retailers through the Organics Unlimited website.

The company also uses recipe cards and other point-of-sale materials to help educate consumers about the importance of the program.

Oke USA, the banana importing arm of Equal Exchange also works to educate customers.

Vice president Jessica Jones-Hughes said their efforts are often targeted toward retailers.

“The best way we’ve found to educate consumers is to educate the staff about the program, so they can tell them what their banana purchase will support and why,” Jones-Hughes said.

The company does some consumer-based appearances, however, Jones-Hughes said.

“We do some demonstrations, such as a banana ice cream tasting, to let people try an Equal Exchange Fair Trade banana in the store,” she said.

The company has demonstrations, training sessions and special displays planned for Fair Trade month.

They are working with a lot of stores to create end cap displays to highlight small business, Fair Trade products.

“We’ve done this type of display for several years, and it has always been successful to raise awareness for Fair Trade products,” Jones-Hughes said.

They will also be making appearances at stores and co-ops down the East Coast and in the Twin Cities, according to Jones-Hughes.

The company hopes these efforts will increase consumer awareness and create a lasting impact.

“Through all this, we’re hoping to be able to move more volume for small-scale farmer co-ops in the long term,” she said.

Source: The Packer (Melissa Shipman)

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