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Success Stories: Bananas

In February of 2014, Sobeys Québec began selling Fairtrade bananas purchased from Equifruit Inc., a Montréal-based produce company and a member of the global Fairtrade movement.

Fairtrade Canada is a national, nonprofit certification organization, and the only Canadian member of Fairtrade International (FLO). Fairtrade Canada provides certification, licensing and promotion for all Fairtrade-certified products in Canada. As a licensee, Equifruit subscribes to the principles of fair trade, and only works with similarly-minded producers. The company works on behalf of Sobeys Inc. as a fruit broker in sourcing high quality product that meets the requirements of our customers

Fairtrade stimulates economic activity for smaller growers in the developing world, by making sure that growers are paid fairly for the products they supply. Pricing includes a $1 per case social premium that is pooled by members of the growers’ cooperative and subsequently invested in community projects and in improving working conditions on plantations. Since the first Fairtrade banana was delivered in 2014, over 50,000 cases of bananas have been distributed and sold in Québec. Demand has quickly grown to roughly twenty pallets a week which equates to approximately 96,000 bananas sold through the store network! The only major grocer in Canada that sells Fairtrade bananas is IGA and IGA extra in Québec.

The program has provided income to approximately four hundred banana producers in northern Peru. In fiscal 2015, Sobeys provided nearly $30,000 in social premiums and to date the company has contributed substantially more money. The cooperative is called APPBOSA (or Asociación de Pequeños Productores de Banano Orgánico Samán y Anexos) and encompasses 1,482 acres of land. The allocations of the development funding are determined by the members of the Cooperative and have been utilized in three ways; improving working conditions, worker training and community investment. Most recently the cooperative has built a new cable conveyor system to move the fruit from the field to packing stations, thereby minimizing physical strain on workers. Additionally, a tetanus clinic was established to protect both field and packing station workers, training sessions on best practices were provided, and the community benefited through the addition of soccer stands for the local field and through instrument donations to a local school music program.

The economic independence that Fairtrade and Sobeys Inc. have brought to the APPBOSA community brings a sense of pride and restores dignity with workers in a historically impoverished area. Sobeys has benefited by being able to provide high quality bananas to our Québec customers.

“The quality of the fruit is outstanding. Even with a price tag that is slightly higher than organic, IGA customers seek out Equifruit bananas in store because of this higher quality and Fairtrade association.”-Enrico Charest, Head Buyer, Sobeys Québec