Longo Brothers Fruit Market Unveils Newly Converted Organic Fairtrade Banana Program
VAUGHAN, CANADA - There’s community, and then there’s community. Though the same word, the difference is in each’s application: the former is a noun found in the dictionary, while the latter operates as more of a verb with the mission of building a bridge of connection. Longo Brothers Fruit Markets is an excellent case study of these differences, especially with its recently revamped banana program.
I sat down to chat with Mimmo Franzone, Director - Produce and Floral, to find out more about Longo’s new Fairtrade program and how this reflects other movements happening in the fresh produce industry to build a better global community.
“Overall, sustainability has been a strong focus for Longo’s over the years, and it has been even more of a concern recently. As a result, we found the need to make the right decisions when it comes to our business on all fronts,” Mimmo shared with me. “Our three main focuses have been Environmental Stewardship, Responsible Sourcing, and Fueling Healthier Happy People. Our newly converted Organic Fairtrade Banana program is a true testament to all three areas of focus.”
The new Organic Fairtrade Banana program is an extension of Longo’s partnership with Equifruit, a small, Canadian, female-run importer of Fairtrade-certified bananas that works directly with cooperatives of small producers in Peru and Ecuador.
“A couple of years ago, we started working with our partners at Equifruit on a test basis by offering their organic Fairtrade bananas in five of our urban format stores,” Mimmo explained. “Through continuous focus on educating our guests about the program it became a great success. While working through our sustainability initiative, it was only fitting and the right thing to do to for our business, our guests, and our grower partners to introduce an Organic Fairtrade Banana program at all of our stores.”
Longo’s new Organic Fairtrade Banana program includes new signage to catch shoppers’ attention in-store. These POS materials include phrases like “These bananas build communities” and education on what Fairtrade means to Equifruit and Longo’s, which includes the following:
- Respecting the minimum prices set by Fairtrade International. The Fairtrade minimum price is meant to reflect local costs of sustainable production. This price must be respected year-round, which guarantees financial stability to farmers and their families
- Paying a social premium of $1 (USD) per 40 lb case. Social premium money is pooled by members of the small producer cooperative and is used for projects designed to improve the environment, local communities and infrastructure, or training on the farms
- Representing approximately $30,000 (USD) in social premium funds annually
- Respecting working standards, which are designed to protect human rights, such as prohibiting forced child labor and ensuring safe working conditions
Signage explaining these distinctions to shoppers will also be featured beyond Longo’s produce aisle, including in weekly advertisements.
“Most of our competitors in our market offer a traditional organic banana program. Longo’s, however, is currently one of the largest representations of Fairtrade bananas in our market, since we’re expanding our new program across our 36 stores, our PRONTO Eats format, and our online grocery delivery service, Grocery Gateway,” Mimmo noted.
Sustainability and other feel-good initiatives are more than words on paper, and Longo Brothers Fruit Market is exemplifying this to a tee. Taking a firm stand in improving farmers’ lives, building a community that sees strength in each other’s differences, and creating a better tomorrow is no easy task, but as one of the preeminent retailers making strides across all areas of sustainability, Longo’s is setting itself apart from the rest as an industry leader.
As more produce pioneers chart out our industry’s future course, AndNowUKnow will continue to report.