Canadian group Longo’s has set a new standard for sustainable produce supply chains by becoming the first grocery retailer anywhere in North America to commit to selling only Fairtrade bananas.
Following a successful trial, the company has now switched its entire banana offer – in all 36 of its stores as well as via its delivery service Grocery Gateway – to Fairtrade-certified conventional and organic.
Announcing the decision, Longo’s said it wanted to guarantee fair and sustainable incomes for farmers and communities, as well as to offer technical support and reduce the environmental impact of its banana sourcing.
“We aim to be the most trusted and relied-upon food partner, and that includes setting sustainability precedents,” said Mike Longo, chief merchandising officer at Longo’s. “We’re proud to be the first North American retailer to initiate what is becoming a global purchasing standard for bananas.”
The move coincides with Canada’s annual Fairtrade Month, and also represents a major milestone for the retailer’s supply partner, Quebec-based Equifruit.
Speaking exclusively to Fruitnet, Equifruit’s president Jennie Coleman described the news as a “major milestone” for Fairtrade bananas.
“While many European retailers have had long-standing 100 per cent Fairtrade commitments on their full banana offerings, Longo’s is the first retailer in North America to make a full switch to Fairtrade, and to price their bananas in accordance with Fairtrade’s standards on both the cost of sustainable production and social premium contributions.“
She added: “We at Equifruit are very excited to partner with Longo’s, and to be able to report soon on the impact of this move for our grower partners in Ecuador.”
By meeting Fairtrade's social sustainability standards, Equifruit and Longo's said they would reinvest US$1 per standard 40lb case sold back to the communities where the bananas were produced. These funds are used for projects like clean water facilities, schools and health clinics, they said.
“Fairtrade standards provide essential income stability to banana farmers working in an otherwise highly volatile market and empower them to invest in their communities,” Coleman explained.
“Fairtrade purchasing is the most pragmatic approach to ensuring these communities continue to develop and provide the world with its favourite staple fruit.”
Mimmo Franzone, director of produce and floral at Longo’s, said fresh produce had always been the backbone of the group’s business, and responsible sourcing was at the core of its family values.
“We are proud to be taking these important steps with Equifruit to ensure we can continue to fuel happier and healthier lives around the globe for years to come.”
This Fruitnet exclusive is taken from our forthcoming Fresh Focus Banana special, part of Eurofruit's May 2021 issue. To get your copy, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.