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Fair Trade bananas look to expand North American presence

When it comes to the North American fair trade banana market, growth looks very possible.

“We’re a small player in the market but our sales are growing significantly each year,” says Jennie Coleman of Montreal, Que.-based Equifruit. “In Canada, we’re less than one per cent of the market and I believe penetration in the U.S. is smaller than that for fair trade bananas.” That number contrasts quite a bit to what’s seen in Europe. “In the U.K. for example, one out of three bananas is a fairtrade banana—and that’s in both conventional and organic that are fairtrade certified,” adds Coleman.

What is Fair Trade?
Fairtrade is an umbrella certification applied to goods such as produce. “It looks at how you’re treating people on your plantation, how you’re paying them,” Coleman notes. “Right now we’ve sold fair trade organic but we know that the volume in the Canadian market is on conventional bananas.”

Equifruit, which only buys and sells fairtrade bananas and is currently sourcing them via contracts with farmers in Ecuador and Peru, has distribution throughout two Canadian provinces: Ontario and Quebec. “It’s still a developing market in Canada,” says Coleman. “It’s still niche and we need to work on educating consumers on where their fruit is coming from. The local food movement is very popular but with tropical fruit, it’s a bit out of sight, out of mind.”

Retail connections
That said, Coleman is connected with major Canadian retailers for distribution including Sobey’s and Farm Boy. “We have another chain we’re going to work with in the New Year so things are changing,” she says, adding that Equifruit has tripled its sales in four years.

For more information:
Jennie Coleman
Equifruit, Inc.
Tel : +1-514-910-4360

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