South Ontario-based Longo Brothers Fruit Market has become the first grocery retailer in North America to commit to offering only Fairtrade bananas, the company announced Thursday. The commitment is made possible through a partnership with the Canadian company Equifruit, Canada’s leading Fairtrade-certified banana importer.
Effective May 6, all 36 locations of Longo’s and online Grocery Gateway delivery will exclusively offer both conventional and organic Fairtrade bananas.
The decision sets a new standard for sustainable produce supply chains in North America, the companies said. The announcement is aligned with Fairtrade Month, which takes place each May in Canada.
With this commitment, Longo’s says it is ensuring that the farmers and communities where its bananas are sourced are guaranteed a fair and sustainable income and that farmers get financial and technical support to lower their impact on the environment. The move is the latest in Longo’s long line of sustainability initiatives centered around environmental stewardship, responsible sourcing and healthy communities, including waste diversion, use of renewable energy and community donations.
“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.”
In meeting Fairtrade's social sustainability standards, Equifruit and Longo's reinvest $1 per standard 40-pound case of bananas sold back to the communities where the bananas were produced. These funds are used for projects like clean water facilities, schools and health clinics.
“Produce has always been the backbone of our business, and responsible sourcing is not only incredibly important to us but is at the core of our family values,” said Mimmo Franzone, director of produce and floral at Longo’s. “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.”
“Fairtrade standards provide essential income stability to banana farmers working in an otherwise highly volatile market and empower them to invest in their communities,” added Jennie Coleman, president of Equifruit. “Fairtrade purchasing is the most pragmatic approach to ensuring these communities continue to develop and provide the world with its favorite staple fruit.”
To meet International Fairtrade Standards, banana producers must provide fair wages and safe working conditions for workers, forbid child labor, minimize the use of chemicals and properly sustain the local environment.