Canadian demand for Fairtrade bananas continues to show significant strength.
“Demand continues to grow. It’s been another record year for us,” says Kim Chackal, Director, Sales and Marketing for Equifruit of Montreal, Quebec. Chackal notes that last year Equifruit saw an increase in sales of 63 percent; this year, it’s expecting to grow by 49 percent. “And that’s a conservative projection because we’re looking to develop the U.S. market.”
Chackal says there’s an appetite on the part of small growers especially who are Fairtrade certified to want to partner with Equifruit to help grow the market in Canada and eventually, the U.S.
This comes following Equifruit’s expansion into major retailers in Ontario such as Costco and Sobeys. But the growth also comes at a time when consumers are thinking a lot about their food. “Where your food comes from and who produced it is at the forefront of the consumer’s mind. Whether they’re willing to pay more for it is another issue,” says Chackal. “But the conversation is increasingly being had, especially with our target market, millennials and Gen Z. It’s an absolute given that the product should be ethically sourced but the brand should have responsible and sustainable business practices in place as well. So we’re checking a lot of boxes in terms of what consumers want and I think we’ll see a continued increase in demand year over year.”
More sourcing countries
To meet that demand, supplies of Fairtrade bananas continue to be steady. And while last year at this time Equifruit’s bananas were sourced out of two regions only, Peru and Ecuador, this year it has expanded growing regions to include Nicaragua, Mexico and Colombia and in those countries, it continues to add growers to its portfolio. “There’s an appetite on the part of small growers especially who are Fairtrade certified to want to partner with us to help grow the market in Canada and eventually, the U.S.,” says Chackal.
The team from Equifruit.
And like growers and shippers across North America, Equifruit too has had logistics challenges in banana sourcing. However, the additional sourcing countries have allowed Equifruit to diversify its grower network and lower its risk in terms of supply sources. It’s also beefed up its operations team, a move that included adding a Panama-based senior expert in quality and sourcing to Equifruit’s leadership team to maintain and grow its sourcing.
“The real challenge is just price. Are we making enough money per load to have a viable business? I think we’ll have to make further price adjustments but that’s to be confirmed,” says Chackal.
Increasing name awareness
Meanwhile Equifruit itself continues to work on growing awareness with consumers and its position as the official banana suppliers for the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games this August will help. Equifruit will donate 50,000 conventional Fairtrade bananas to the games and introduce a social media campaign to support the partnership. #bananabadass, a hashtag Equifruit used at the recent CPMA 2022 show in Montreal, will help highlight moments in the games that embody diversity, inclusion and/or sustainability.
Equifruit used the hashtag #bananabadass at the recent CPMA 2022 show in Montreal.
And this October in Orlando, Florida, Equifruit will also exhibit for the first time at the Global Produce & Floral Show, booth #4579, in the first-time exhibitor’s section.