Organics Unlimited’s Mayra Velazquez de León Highlights Sustainability With GROW
- by Lilian Diep
SAN DIEGO, CA - The road to growth and success is oftentimes challenging, but ultimately worth it. For Organics Unlimited, that path has led the company to a successful 20 years in the business and 15 years for its proprietary program, GROW. The small family business has grown into a recognizable stronghold with a purpose—to work with small growers and become a full-circle sustainability company.
“Transitioning conventional growers into organics is a three-year program, but we are there every step of the way. We are always working with new growers to transition because it is a process. The idea here is to keep going and trying to make our label more recognizable in the market,” Mayra Velazquez de León, President and Chief Executive Officer, explains. “We want to make sure that people know what GROW is, what GROW does for the community, and for the people that are growing our fruit. Right now, we are continuously working with small growers and fair-traded products to increase our brand recognition. Maybe in the future, we can bring in another product other than bananas, plantains, and coconuts.”
A new variety to throw into the sustainable organic mix? The GROW initiative could benefit from this, but I would venture that the new category could benefit more.
GROW is a fully transparent program where $0.60 of every box sold goes to fund and support programs such as scholarships, vision and dental clinics, clean water programs, malnutrition recovery, and disaster relief. Since its inception, Organics Unlimited has reached $2.7 million raised for various initiatives.
“It is incredible! We started selling two pallets of GROW a week, and now about 90 percent of what we sell is under the GROW label,” Mayra tells me. “Due to the demand, we’ve had to increase the land we work with and added new growers. We just need to keep growing because you can see that the shopping trend is not only going to an organic label, but to an organic label that has something behind it, which is social responsibility.”
Consumers are more conscientious about the products they purchase, and shopping habits are trending toward more organic and sustainable branding. This allows purpose-driven companies like Organics Unlimited to thrive and expand.
“We really appreciate smaller growers as it’s easier to manage the organic system and because we’re able to work with all those growers that people don’t usually want to,” says Mayra. "It’s helping the community in a way, and we’re very proud of that. Growers show that they’re thankful by working with us in our organic practices, so we really enjoy working with them. They know that we are focused on fair trade, and that’s very important to them, too. It works both ways.”
Produce is very much a give-and-take industry, but it is one where everybody benefits. With innovative game-changers like Organics Unlimited at the helm, ANUK cannot wait to see what’s in store.