Mayra Velazquez de León Discusses Organics Unlimited's GROW Program
- by Robert Schaulis
SAN DIEGO, CA - Since 2005, Organics Unlimited’s GROW social responsibility program has been at the forefront of efforts to improve the lives of growing communities in Mexico and Ecuador.
By offering a portion of the proceeds of every box of GROW organic bananas purchased to support youth educational programs, health clinics, and dental and vision care in Mexico; clean water and early childhood education programs in Ecuador; and disaster relief and environmental initiatives throughout the region, Organics Unlimited has ensured that North American and Asian consumers have healthy and delicious fruit and growing communities have access to necessities.
I recently had the chance to ask Mayra Velazquez de León, President and CEO of Organics Unlimited and GROW, about the program, its reception, and growth opportunities as the Organics Unlimited team looks to tackle a growing number of challenges.
Q: How has GROW flourished over the course of the last 10+ years? How has it changed or evolved since its start?
Mayra Velazquez de León: GROW by Organics
The mission of GROW hasn’t changed but rather expanded into even more communities and programs as the need to support is great all around the world. In addition to the initial education and health programs, GROW has also supported environmental programs and assisting with microbusinesses. The next program that is on the horizon is an initiative that will focus on the problems with the devastation of bee colonies worldwide.
Q: What was the impetus behind GROW and the company's first GROW month?
MV: We started the GROW program as a way to give back to the growing communities in Mexico and Ecuador. In most instances, these communities struggle to provide the very basic necessities such as clean water, medical care, education and more. Organics Unlimited truly believes in making positive social change and we wanted to develop a program that would be sustainable. GROW Month was an idea that started in 2007 as we looked for a way to really focus and target the messages of what GROW was accomplishing.
Q: Why is it important to Organics Unlimited to connect with consumers via the GROW brand?
MV: Consumers like to support brands and companies that give back to others. Raising awareness about the GROW brand and GROW Month efforts gives consumers an opportunity to learn more about what is taking place and how they can get involved or feel reassured that they are making a positive difference in some way by purchasing GROW label bananas at the store. The consumer support is ultimately what makes GROW a sustainable program.
Q: Can you tell me a little, in general, about Organics Unlimited's commitment to transparency and consumer education?
MV: Organics Unlimited’ commitment to transparency and consumer education is top priority. We are completely dedicated to doing our part as a leader in the organic banana and produce industry, to show others how social responsibility can make positive social change and also be good business. It begins with being open and honest as to how consumer dollars are being used to improve the lives of others around the world. Helping others is very important for Organics Unlimited, and we believe in leading by example.
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Q: Is there anything new in the works for Organics Unlimited that you would like to get in front of our readership?
MV: Organics Unlimited has completed its expansion of farmland this year and that will allow us to provide more of the freshest, best-tasting organic bananas on the market to more people throughout the U.S., Canada, and Asia. Our organic coconuts and plantains continue to provide additional produce options for wholesalers looking to provide healthy, tasty, and reliable organic tropical fruit options for their customers. Being fourth-generation organic
Wholesalers, retailers, and consumers can participate in GROW Month on social media throughout September to raise awareness of GROW’s humanitarian work by purchasing GROW labeled organic bananas and sharing hashtag #GROWmonth on Facebook
For more fresh produce news, keep reading AndNowUKnow.