In 2000, Mayra Velazquez de León founded Organics Unlimited with the mission to provide customers in North America with the best quality organic bananas and tropical fruits. “I learned the marketing side of the business from my dad who brought the first commercially grown organic bananas to the United States in 1972,” says President and CEO Mayra Velazquez de León. She started her own company in 2000 by purchasing banana plantations in Mexico. “When I started, I didn’t know the growing side, but I was forced to learn it quickly on the job.”
Mayra Velazquez de León of Organics Unlimited.
Well-being of community members
Not only has Organics Unlimited been a frontrunner when it comes to growing and marketing organic-only produce. The company also has made social responsibility a key focus from its inception. “The well-being of our workers and other people in the community is a priority for us,” said Velazquez de León. “Therefore, we started a program called GROW in 2005.” The program was founded on the principle of providing a better lifestyle for members of Organics Unlimited’s banana growing communities in Mexico and Ecuador. “It helps to provide educational, dental and vision support to those who need it most.” Sixty cents of every box of GROW organic bananas is directed towards the program.
New fairly traded label from Organics Unlimited.
Because not everyone knows that GROW stands for Giving Resources and Opportunities to Workers, the company has recently changed its label and added ‘fairly traded’ to it. “Fairly traded resonates with consumers and without further explanation, they understand quickly what it means,” Velazquez de León added. Organics Unlimited owns about 40 percent of its plantations and 60 percent is operated in partnership with small growers. “For the partner-operated plantations, we do the harvesting, packaging and manage the organic program. As a result, we are still able to keep a close eye on the well-being of the workers and the people in their communities.”
Organics Unlimited is looking forward to celebrating its 20th anniversary next year.