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Eosta pushes mangoes and avocados with Living Wage premium

Eosta pushes mangoes and avocados with Living Wage premium
Photo: Eosta

In 2020, organic fruit and vegetable importer Eosta became the first in the world to put a Living Wage product on shop shelves: the Living Wage mango from Zongo Adama in Burkina Faso. Eosta customers paid 10 cents more per kilo of mangoes to ensure Zongo’s employees earn a living wage. A second product will be added in April 2021: Living Wage avocados from Anthony Ngugi in Kenya. Unlike the mangoes, Eosta customers will now not be given a choice – if you want to sell Anthony’s avocados, you have to pay the living wage price, which is 2 cents per kilo more.

Living Wage is a new concept in food retail practice. A living wage allows for a decent standard of living for a family, and is usually higher than the local minimum wage. If we truly want to eradicate poverty and give people a fair chance, products must be priced to pay a living wage. Although many organizations are conducting extensive studies on Living Wage, Eosta is the first company to bring Living Wage to the shop and to the consumer. The launch of avocados will be followed by Zongo’s mangoes later in April.

In order to be able to sell the Kenyan avocados as Living Wage, an inventory of the incomes of Anthony Ngugi’s 83 employees and the standard of living in Kenya was carried out in the fall of 2020. Eosta followed the protocol of the development organization the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), using their calculation method. This year, for the first time, a review of the calculation by an auditor took place, which is a first step toward Living Wage certification. A Kenyan employee of the international auditor Sedex conducted the inventory. Formal certification of Living Wage does not exist yet, but this is an important step in that direction.

The study showed that adding 2 cents per kilo to the price of avocados is necessary to provide a living wage. Major retailers in Scandinavia, Austria, Germany and the Netherlands have shown interest. The first pioneers in 2020 were health food stores in Germany and Austria. During the summer season, Eosta sold over 100,000 kilos of Living Wage mangoes to them. The premium collected was enough to cover 40% of the wage gap for Zongo Adama warehouse workers.


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Colombia invests in organic lime

Colombia invests in organic lime © Eosta

© Eosta


When the first shipment of Colombian limes from “Persian Limes” arrived at organic fruit specialist Eosta in Waddinxveen last week, they came with a very nice surprise. On the 800 boxes of fresh green limes, almost a hundred postcards were stuck with personal messages from the farm workers of the valley of the river Poblanco. For them, the first shipment of Colombian limes to the Netherlands means a fresh new start for the Colombian countryside, after decades of poverty and guerrilla warfare.

In early 2016, Volkert Engelsman, director of Eosta, travelled throughout Colombia with Juan Manuel Santos, the president of Colombia, and Phil Hogan, the European Commissioner for Agriculture. Santos was about to conclude an historic peace agreement with the FARC guerrilla movement, for which he would later be awarded the Nobel Prize. It was high time to revitalize the countryside after it had been destroyed for years by the cocaine trade. To this end, Santos turned his attention to organic agriculture for export as a dream alternative. Engelsman saw the possibilities and promised the Colombian growers help in switching to organic farming.

A better place to live

Now it’s finally here. With Eosta’s advice, Juan Pablo Duque has planted 300 hectares of trees in recent years and achieved organic certification. This year the trees really started to produce fruits. “Thank you for buying our very first export fruit!” it says on one of the many cards, stuck on a pallet full of juicy green limes. “These limes have been grown with love and passion, by people who love the countryside. We’re going to make our region a better place to live. Thanks for your trust and keep buying them from us! Valentino Bedoya, field worker.” Over the next few years, the area will be extended to 2000 hectares.

Both socially and ecologically responsible

Eosta’s lime specialist Nicolas Coste is delighted with the first harvest: “The limes are really top quality and are selling like hot cakes. Plus, there’s a great story behind it. The plantations provide equal incomes and healthy jobs, even childcare. They protect all sorts of native species of plants and animals. For Colombia, this represents a great opportunity to restore agricultural landscapes, to bring back agriculture and to change Colombia’s international image positively. It’s a really nice company. Check it out at our website with code 410!”

Together towards a healthy future

Volkert Engelsman, director of Eosta, responded by sending a warm video message to Juan Pablo Duque and his employees: “Congratulations! In the face of Covid-19, it is even clearer that we need to make changes as regards biodiversity and agriculture. You are the pioneers of a future in which agriculture is not only about kilograms per hectare, but also about soil health, biodiversity, positive climate impact and health for farmers and citizens. We look forward to working with you for many, many years!”

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Eosta introduces Kiwi Muppets

Eosta introduces Kiwi Muppets

Using high-tech laser technology, organic specialist Eosta turns a simple organic kiwi into a cheeky fruit muppet. The Nature & More Kiwi Muppets are a fun and easy way for kids to get their much needed portion of vitamins and fibre.

Research shows that over 75% European children are not eating enough fruit and vegetables, so Eosta has designed an innovative  way to make fruit more appealing: make it fun.

A few years ago Eosta successfully introduced BUG, individually wrapped organic oranges that can be turned into an active beetle. This week the Dutch organic fruit and vegetable specialist is launching Kiwi Muppets.

Michaël Wilde, responsible for sustainability and communication, said: “Thanks to natural branding laser technology we can now not only brand our fruit and vegetables with organic logos but also add other texts and designs including these fun faces. The only thing that  people need to do at home is partly cut the kiwi open along the cut line. This way you have a mouth and that brings Kenny, Katy and Kalissa Kiwi to life!”

Natural Branding

Natural Branding is the organic approach to marking fruits and vegetables with a laser beam. In the process, a bit of pigment is removed from the outer layer of the peel. This contact-free method was approved by EU Organic certifier SKAL, no additional substances are used, and the method is so superficial that it has no effect on taste or shelf life. The energy needed for a marking is less than 1% of the energy needed for a sticker. The biggest advantage of this innovation is that it is no longer necessary to pack the organic products in harmful plastic foil.

Natural Branding saves tons of plastic and other packaging materials; Just for one product line for one customer, we are saving over 750,000 packaging units, which is tons of plastic. Meanwhile we supply more than 10 customers home and abroad, saving thousands of miles of plastic films.

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Unexpected huge interest in organic grape cultivation in South Africa

grape sudafrica

South Africa has approximately 650 table grape producers, almost all of which are conventional growers. More than 150 of them, or 20%, attended a conference on May 10th on the opportunities for organic grape cultivation in South Africa. The conference, held in Stellenbosch, was organized by Eosta, a leading European importer and distributor of organic fruit and vegetables. ‘With conventional cultivation you are increasingly running into problems,’ said grape grower Easton Marsh from Lushof. ‘Annual droughts are becoming extreme, and public resistance to pesticides is growing. Organic cultivation can offer some solutions.‘

Eosta presented the Capitalizing on Sustainability Congress to inform conventional grape growers about the economic and ecological possibilities of organic cultivation. ‘Since Jan van Riebeeck built the first vegetable and fruit gardens on the Cape, this country has always been a leader in agriculture’, says Volkert Engelsman, CEO of Eosta. ‘But in recent years, South Africa has fallen behind in terms of sustainability. The share of organic in South Africa is now 0.05% of the area. That is a missed opportunity, really.‘

Shortage of supply

The run-up to the congress was bigger than expected, says Engelsman. ‘We had hoped for thirty attendees, but the registrations started coming in immediately and kept coming. We seem to have hit a nerve. This is really a trend shift.’ According to Engelsman, the organic market can accommodate newcomers. ‘The total turnover of organic grapes in Europe increases by double digits each year, and there is a shortage of supply. We work with four fantastic growers, but there is room for more. We will be happy to advise and assist growers who want to convert to organic.’

New grape varieties

One of the barriers to converting to organic cultivation is that various conventional grape varieties are not suitable for organic cultivation. Varieties such as Thompson Seedless for instance require continuous chemical adjustment: to trigger bud break, to influence berry size, to thin the bunch, to obtain good colouring. . Breeding companies SNFL and Sun World, however, presented new grape varieties at the conference that were specially developed for organic farming. Organic grower Warren Bam spoke enthusiastically about Allison, a new variety introduced by SNFL: ‘Nature does most of the work with this variety, as it should. As a grower, my most important task is to ensure a healthy, living soil.’

A solution for droughts

The increasing droughts are another reason for growers to consider converting to organic methods . This year the Western Cape suffered from a drought that threatened to exhaust the total water supply of Cape Town. The grape harvest fell by 15%, and most growers have used up their water reserves. Eddie Redelinghuys, a pioneer of organic grape cultivation since 1997, still has enough water left for next year. He told the congress how organic cultivation helps him cope with water shortages. ‘Using conventional cultivation, the soil withers and can no longer retain moisture. As an organic grower I work with compost instead of artificial fertilizer. As a result the water-retaining capacity is much higher; one can save up to 60% of the water. If the entire Western Cape would farm organically, we would save at least 22 billion litres of water per year.’

Soil is the secret

Tobias Bandel of consultancy firm Soil & More Impacts, which advises farmers who want to go organic, pointed out that a living soil has many other advantages too. ‘By taking care of the living soil, you solve the root of the problem. The plant has much better resistance to plagues and diseases. Moreover, you store carbon in the soil, which is a positive contribution to the climate problem.’

At the end of the conference, various attendees indicated that they had a serious interest in converting to organic. South African growers who did not attend the conference but who are interested in conversion may contact Pieter de Keijzer, product manager grapes, at Eosta:, +31 6 410 023 20.