U.S.: fair trade promotion expands into new, bigger markets
With the launch of a new website and the “Taste Me Do Good” message, trade company Interrupcion celebrated World Fair Trade Day this Saturday ready to promote a fresh image. CEO Rafael Goldberg spoke with www.freshfruitportal.com on product expansion and new regional programs.
“The website promotes a new image for Interrupcion with ‘Taste Me Do Good’ and the positive impact of fair trade and organic agriculture,” Goldberg said.
“We use World Fair Trade Day as another opportunity to educate consumers about our message, which includes but is not limited to fair trade.”
Goldberg highlighted the organization’s banana program as an outstanding example of product potential. He said the company category has grown over 150% this year in terms of imported volume from fair trade and organic producers.
“The interesting thing is that the banana is such a cornerstone item in retail. In retail you don’t get much bigger than bananas. This is an option that, although it has been available, it hasn’t reached many important markets. Consumers haven’t had the access to this product. We’ve been aggressively pushing marketing,” he said.
Goldberg cited collaboration with retailers as a major cause of increased consumer interest. He added that certain stores that have picked up the bananas have reported some of their best sales ever.
“When we’ve been able to successfully educate and come up with winning programs with retailers, their demand increases greatly. With the success of one item comes demand for more fair trade products,” he said.
“From our perspective there is a lot of consumer demand that is not being met and there is a lot of latent and pent up demand that hasn’t shown its face yet because a lot of supply hasn’t been made available.”
Interrupcion focuses the majority of its work on improving agricultural operations in Latin America. The organization has its roots in Argentina, which is currently sourcing fair trade, organic apples and pears to the U.S. and Canadian markets.
U.S. producers have recently garnered the interest of the company as well, however. Goldberg said efforts are now being expanded to domestic fair trade with expansion into the California strawberry industry.
“The project focuses on giving capacity to smaller, local growers, many of whom are former farm workers and Latino workers. We want to give them the ability to produce their own crops, give them access to capital and capacity building and therefore access to the market,” he said.
“In that way it’s similar to what goes on in our work with Latin American producers who often require the same sorts of things.”
There is currently no established fair trade certification for producers in the U.S., Goldberg explained. Accordingly, as an organization that does not provide its own fair trade seal, Interrupcion will focus on improving best practices in the state with an initial focus on organic production.
“We identified a community organization that was working very heavily with marginalized producers. It seemed like a great opportunity,” he said.
“Recognizing that an organization in the U.S. was doing extraordinary work, we wanted to expand the role the company offers for both international fair trade products and producers domestically that share the same values.”
Goldberg described the overall company message as a cross-regional effort to promote fairness from seed to shelf.
“The philosophy we’re based on is that it’s good to treat everyone in the supply chain in a dignified way. And as consumers have more concern and interest, the message is resonating. It’s not just fair trade. It’s organic. It’s local. It’s traceability and safety, knowing where your food comes from,” he said.