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Fairtrade organic avocados now offered in Canada

Following the success of Fairtrade bananas, Canadian retailers are now also offering Fairtrade organic avocados. A 466 percent growth in volumes of Fairtrade bananas in Canada over the past six years indicates consumers are increasingly asking for socially and environmentally responsible produce. "To cater to a growing demand for Fairtrade products, retailers have an opportunity to be first movers and differentiate their product offering," says Rob Desson, Senior Business Partnerships Manager for Fresh Produce at Fairtrade Canada. There is considerable industry interest, and the category is expected to see significant growth throughout 2024/25.

The Fairtrade organic avocado program launched this past February and is available to consumers in Ontario and Quebec. Equal Exchange brings the avocados in from Mexico with Canadawide distributing the product to independent retailers across the two provinces. "While the program is still quite new, reception has been strong."

Differentiation at retail level
The decision to start offering Fairtrade organic avocados was driven in part by the growth in awareness of Fairtrade, which has led to growing demand from consumers. According to research from GlobeScan, between 2021 and 2023, a 15-point jump in consumer awareness was registered with 57 percent of Canadians now being familiar with the Fairtrade Mark. That same study also showed Canadians are increasingly including Fairtrade products in their purchases. These developments have resulted in a growing interest from retailers in offering Fairtrade products, especially from retailers that are looking to differentiate and demonstrate their own sustainability commitments. "We are seeing a lot of interest in the fresh space, reflected in the rollout of Fairtrade banana programs with major retailers in Canada like Costco and Walmart," commented Desson. "They are asking us what's next."

Photo credit: CLAC.

Market access
Equal Exchange is very focused on connecting the consumer to the farmers behind the fruit. According to GlobeScan, consumers specifically like to support Fairtrade because it makes them feel they are standing in solidarity with farmers. Reaching new markets can be a challenge for farming cooperatives, and growing the market for Fairtrade products is a major focus. "The more the cooperatives can sell their products on Fairtrade terms the more benefit they see," said Desson. "Those Fairtrade sales help drive impact for the farming communities."

Price premium
While rising food prices are a concern, Fairtrade supporters are still willing to pay more for Fairtrade products. According to GlobeScan's 2023 study, 70 percent of Canadians indicated they would be willing to pay more for ethical products and almost 60 percent said they are willing to pay more for Fairtrade products despite the increased cost of living. Fairtrade farmers are guaranteed to receive at least the Fairtrade Minimum Price of $1.53/kg for their avocados. "This price is a vital safety net against falling market prices and aims to cover the cost of sustainable production. Farmers also receive an organic differential as we know that organic farming requires more resources." In addition, cooperatives receive a Fairtrade Premium, an additional sum of money that is invested in community projects they democratically choose. "The more they sell on Fairtrade terms, the more the cooperative will be able to invest." These projects often help protect local biodiversity and fight climate change.

For more information:
Rob Desson
Fairtrade Canada
Tel: +1 (613) 563-3351 ext. 380
[email protected]>