The North American market has begun receiving its first Fairtrade bell peppers after Mexican greenhouse grower-exporter Divemex achieved the certification, according to a press release.
The peppers will be marketed in the US and Canada by The Oppenheimer Group, which will soon begin supplying conventional red, yellow and orange sweet bell peppers, red and yellow organic peppers and now under the Fairtrade label coloured sweet bell and mini peppers in bulk and various bagged options.
Guadalajara-based Divemex has long championed sustainable concepts including safe working conditions, fair wages, community development and the preservation of ecosystems.
In supplying the first and only Fairtrade-certified peppers to the North American market, Divemex now aims to bring about a positive change for hundreds of people involved in producing the vegetable in Culiacán, Mexico.
“The Fairtrade certified label found on Divemex coloured sweet bell and mini peppers provides assurance that they were grown in a socially responsible manner,” said CEO Luis de Saracho.
For each 11lb carton of Fairtrade-certified Divemex peppers sold in the US and Canada between now and the end of May, US$0.50 will be placed directly into a bank account owned and managed by the Divemex workers, according to Mr de Saracho.
“As a group, they determine how to spend the funds,” he said. “They will dedicate the money to their chosen purpose, based on the most critical needs, like scholarships, bus transportation for students at risk of leaving school, and improved healthcare facilities.”
Divemex started the certification process and programme development four years ago, finally receiving certification for 70ha of greenhouses in January.
Oppenheimer chairman, president and CEO, John Anderson, said the company is “genuinely proud” to be involved in the project and noted that the Fairtrade concept resonates well with North American consumers.
“As we’ve seen from the ‘locally grown’ movement, people are more interested than ever in knowing where their food is produced, and by whom,” Mr Anderson said.
“The Fairtrade label operates in the same fashion. Conscientious consumers recognise it as a symbol that the strict social, economic and environmental standards have been met. We’re pleased that Divemex has made this option available for us to offer our customers.”