Agrofair bananas, a complete fair trade concept

Published on Feb 14th, 2014

“Our brands differentiate through our strong commitment to the producers and our strong ethical commitment through the entire supply chain”.  Agrofair was established in the Netherlands in 1996 with the objective of creating direct market access to Europe for small farmers. “We are primarily a production and distribution company, since 35% of our stakeholders are banana producers”, points out its managing director, Hans-Willem van der Waal. Agrofair has defended a complete fair trade concept in its entire organization since it was founded. “We are not just importing Fair Trade and organic products, our entire supply chain responds to the same concept” explains Hans-Willem. The company also answers to the IFS protocol, in the high level category since November. Almost 100% of its farmers are also GlobalGAP certified. As proof of its strong commitment to ethical trade in bananas and sub-tropical fruit, Agrofair received the Coop Swiss supermarkets’ “Natura 2012” award. “We are proud of this recognition, a great award to our engagement with sustainable development and to our responsible support of small farmers”. With 4 million boxes imported annually, bananas represent more than 90% of Agrofair’s business. They come from the major banana producing countries of Latin America, like Peru, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and the Dominican Republic. Other ethical trade products are citrus and various tropical fruits like pineapples, mangoes and coconuts. “We decided to stop with organic mangoes, since they represent a higher plant health and economic risk for our growers. It is a true ethical concern to limit our farmers’ risk”. 50% of volumes are both organic and Fair Trade, to respond to the preferences of the consumers and to the choice of the supermarkets to market them in the same “sustainable” segment. Germany, Switzerland, Italy and the UK are the major receivers of Agrofair bananas. Demand also exists on other European markets but still represents smaller volumes. “There is a potential demand for ethical bananas in the whole of Europe, but it is often limited by the price” considers Hans-Willem. Agrofair also imports 3 to 4 containers of bio & Fair Trade pineapples every week. Peru, Ecuador and Costa Rica are the main origins. 90% of the volumes are shipped by container, for more flexibility between the producer and the customer. Reefer shipments are still used on the direct routes, due to the faster transit time (just 14 days from Peru, instead of 21 to 24 by container). Agrofair bananas are popular under the brands “EkoOké” for both organic and Fair Trade and “Oké” for fair trade, also “Altromercato” in Italy (with the exclusive partner CTM) and “All Good” (with New Zealand partner All Good). “Elephant” is used for conventional bananas, which are also highly appreciated on the markets supplied by Agrofair. The organization has its own technical team in Latin America, based in Panama, in order to assist the growers with integrated quality management. The team focusses on constant improvements with implementation of the multiple quality certificates, organic crop management, research and productivity, traceability, packing and logistics. “Oké is viewed as a direct link between the small producer and the retailer”. PE

 

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