Driscoll's expands Fair Trade Certified™ farms in Baja, Mexico

In 2019, Driscoll’s said its Fair Trade program increased acreage by nearly 14 percent with the goal of being 100 percent Fair Trade Certified™ by the end of 2019. This means an additional 1,000 workers can positively benefit from the program.

This expansion builds on the company's multi-year Fair Trade USA partnership which it said has contributed nearly one million dollars in Community Development Funds through the sale of Fair Trade Certified™ organic berries grown in Baja California.

The program expansion allows Driscoll’s to include more of its independent growers, expand retail distribution and increase sales of Fair Trade Certified™ berries. As a result, more workers in Baja California will benefit from the program and receive additional funds for community development.

“With more than 6,500 workers employed by Fair Trade Certified™ farms, our goal is to amplify the positive impact they can have in their local communities,” says Soren Bjorn, president, Driscoll’s of the Americas. “Expanding our Fair Trade program to the entire region means more opportunities for farm workers and their families to participate in and benefit from community-led improvement projects. It also introduces more opportunities for our consumers to make a difference with each purchase.”

Fair Trade Certified™ farms uphold strict environmental and social standards — values which Driscoll's says greatly aligns with its commitment to worker welfare and global labor standards.

Each time a consumer buys berries carrying the Fair Trade Certified™ seal, the farmworkers and the communities growing the berries earn additional money that goes into a Community Development Fund. Fair Trade Committees, made up of local farmworkers elected to represent their communities, organize projects that benefit the community where Driscoll’s berries are grown and the farm workers live and work, based on community needs and input.

Funds generated from the sales of Fair Trade Certified™ berries have supported a number of community projects in local Baja California communities. Each project is selected through a needs assessment and voted on by all the workers included in the scope of the Fair Trade certificate, including a dedicated committee.

The Fair Trade committee has organized three community health fairs across Baja California since 2017, helping nearly 3,000 farmworkers and their families receive medical care from specialists including gynecologists, dentists and optometrists.

Additionally, Fair Trade funds were used to provide more than 1,700 backpacks filled with crayons, pencils, scissors, and stationery to Baja families. This encourages school attendance and performance in the community. It also decreases the percentage of children who drop out of school due to the high costs of the supplies required to attend. However, this is only the beginning. With more farms certified, Driscoll’s said it expects larger projects with longer lasting impact. According to Saidel Hernandez, Fair Trade Committee President and Harvest Crew leader, “I’m imagining a very large project, not only one that would impact all the workers here, but that would help all the other companies see what Fair Trade really does. Something that will leave a mark, a ‘plasmado,’ that’s my hope for the future.”

“We are thrilled to see Driscoll’s commitment to expand its Fair Trade program in Baja," said Nathalie Marin-Gest, Senior Director, Produce & Floral at Fair Trade USA. “In addition to increasing the impact that Fair Trade will have on workers in this region, it empowers consumers in the United States to choose berries that align with their values - those that were grown under strict social, economic and environmental standards.”

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