Coliman's Jorge Angel Aguilar Jr. Talks Fair Trade Certification, Rainforest Alliance Certification, and Organic Bananas
- by Jordan Okumura
COLIMA, MEXICO - “For Coliman, our people as well as their families and our land are just as important as our customers. We feel it is a symbiotic relationship where everyone contributes to the betterment and improvement of both people and mother earth,” Jorge Angel Aguilar Jr., Corporate CEO of Coliman, tells me as we discuss the company’s vision, foundation and Fair Trade Certification (FTC).
With Coliman’s continued goal of becoming a regional, national, and international leader in marketing and distributing organic bananas, FTC is a topic that remains top-of-mind as the company discovers new ways to add value to its product and its family of workers. Consumers continue to support FTC products, Jorge notes, due to their positive social and economic impact on farm labor and its communities, as well as the impact on environmental sustainable farming practices.
“The annual sales of Fair Trade Certified products is $6.5 billion and this program continues to grow in Europe and in North America showing 30% growth in Canada and U.S. sales are now $577 Million,” Jorge adds. “Fair Trade Certification came about as the result of Coliman’s values and commitment to corporate social responsibility. As an important grower in Mexico, our ownership prides itself on the direct and honest communication and dialogue with the industry based on the respect of its workers.”
In addition to the company’s FTC initiatives, Coliman has also achieved Rainforest Alliance Certification on its organic bananas, passing rigorous social and environmental standards set by the Sustainable Agriculture Network(SAN) to ensure the company grows crops and manages ranchlands sustainably.
“The Rainforest Alliance reinforces our commitment to ecosystem conservation, sustainability practices, wildlife protection, fair treatment and good working conditions,” Jorge tells me while we speak about how the company’s goal is to remain stewards of the land. “Coliman has always had the objective of improving the lives of its workers and the community. Our workers come from local communities as our farms produce year round. Our programs include education, housing, promoting exercise and nutrition, and improving our environment. All this ensures that we help to improve the quality of the lives of our workers and their families while providing a high quality product to the marketplace and our valued, socially responsible customers”
The Fair Trade program, through the local committees, has allowed Coliman to buy washing machines, refrigerators and stoves for 260 families, school kits for 136 families, bicycles for 174 families, and the construction of lunch rooms for two public schools in the community. Coliman also works in conjunction with local and state authorities to help in the construction of a city park and reforestation.
So what is it about Colima that makes it such an ideal growing region? Jorge tells me that it has the optimum climate conditions for growing bananas due to its mild year-round weather and low precipitation levels compared with other growing regions.
“In order to be congruent with our values and to maintain the work/life balance for our workers we already have established, it only made sense to become Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance Certified,” Jorge adds.
Coliman is already shipping its FTC products, identified by the FTC logo, to the U.S. through Nogales, Arizona, and McAllen, Texas, for retail partners. Rainforest Alliance Certified products are also shipping now, with certification recently awarded in June of 2016.
As the company continues to expand its retail distribution, and raise the bar on its social and corporate responsibility, stay tuned to AndNowUKnow for continued updates on Coliman.