“We operate in a very niche environment and our sales have been growing. We’ve had a terrific winter in Fairtrade, organic bananas,” says Jennie Coleman of Montreal, Que.-based Equifruit. “And because our sales are growing, a lot of our customers are asking us what’s next? And we’d love to do other products.”
A few of Equifruit's Fairtrade growers in Ecuador
Fairtrade is a certification applied to goods such as produce that assures buyers that workers are treated and paid fairly through transparent pricing and social premium mechanisms. And while Equifruit to date has specialized in bananas, sourced from Ecuador and Peru, its future expansion options may include commodities such as fair trade organic avocados, vegetables such as snap and snow peas and even flowers.
This thinking also comes on the heels of the success in winter banana sales but also an expansion in retail partners—the company, which supplies to the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec—began distributing in Ontario Longo’s stores as of January. (It already supplies stores such as Farm Boy and Sobeys Quebec.) Equifruit is also looking at expanding its supply chain. “We know that to continue growing, we have to broaden our supply base so in May we’re headed out on a potential supplier tour and looking at a Colombian banana supplier,” says Coleman.
Jennie Coleman with a Fairtrade grower and fellow Equifruit employees
So to help with its eye on expansion, Equifruit is heading to the CPMA 2018 show, held this year in Vancouver from April 24-26. “Going to CPMA allows us to speak to buyers across the country,” says Coleman, who adds that Equifruit’s booth is set up to make visitors feel like they’re walking into a banana plantation. “We’re excited about the show. We get to talk to people and learn about what’s going on, what’s of interest and how we can respond to that.”