Peru consistently supplies ginger for almost 10 months out of the year with a season that starts in July and runs through April. For Viva Tierra Organic, it’s the third year bringing certified organic ginger from Peru into the US and just added the Fair Trade USA™ certification to the program this past July.
“As far as I know, we’re the first company to bring in ginger from Peru that’s both organic and Fair Trade USA™ certified,” says Chris Ford with Viva Tierra Organic. “Consumers have become familiar with the Fair Trade brand in coffee, sugar, tea, etc. for quite some time and it’s a brand they trust,” he said. Fair Trade USA™ is a recognizable, social certification program with strict standards and we are excited to bring in product that has also been grown and shipped under safe working conditions.”
Ultimately, Viva Tierra’s ginger program aims to drive consumption. This includes educating consumers on the versatility and potential of fresh ginger root. “We’re helping them discover that ginger can be used for cooking and baking, but also serves as an ingredient in juices, teas, smoothies, and cocktails,” said Ford.
With the peak season for consumption starting now, the holidays are a perfect time for people to learn about versatility. Not only is peak consumption driven by the holidays, but it is also driven by the northern hemisphere winter as ginger is used as a remedy for the flu, colds and coughs. “Ginger consumption picked up significantly during the Covid pandemic, expanding the consumer’s knowledge. We are now looking to deliver in a larger footprint and make ginger more widely available across the North American continent,” Ford said. Peak season usually lasts through the end of March, early April.
What also helps drive consumption is selling ginger as a packaged retail item with a UPC code. “Our packaging doesn’t contain any plastic but is made from materials that are 100 percent recyclable,” Ford said.
Developing northern hemisphere supplies
Peru’s ginger production is concentrated between the Andes mountains and rainforest, east of Lima. Viva Tierra sources their ginger from small-scale growers who go through rigorous audits from organic certification agencies to ensure compliance with the USDA NOP standards. With May and June being challenging months in terms of supply, the company is actively developing their northern hemisphere supply partners. “We are looking to complement Peruvian program during their off-season, enabling us to have steady, high-quality supply year-round,” said Ford. This is in line with Viva Tierra’s goal to expand its reach. “Right now, the program is mainly East Coast focused, but we have the capacity to increase production for any retailer in North America.”
The journey from Peru to the US East Coast is about 14-20 days by vessel. Although it is a reliable service and product arrives in great condition, Viva Tierra is working on providing product with an organically approved post-harvest solution. “We’ve been trialing and actively pursuing a post-harvest application that reduces dehydration, improving the quality, flavor and shelf-life.”