Submitted by Wild Oats Markets, Inc.
The Fair Trade certification movement is making a difference in the lives of coffee, tea and cocoa farmers all over the world. For many reasons, the time is now ripe to add banana farmers and their families to that group. Banana farmers in some regions earn just $3 per day. While bananas remain inexpensive and are among the most popular fruits sold in the U.S., the workers who grow them are often exploited and exposed to harsh working conditions on the farms. The Wild Oats Natural Marketplace and TransFair USA partnership is aimed at easing those conditions. With each bite of a Fair Trade Certified™ banana, consumers will be supporting and empowering farmers and their families.
"At Wild Oats, we believe it is our responsibility to ensure the people who grow and manufacture our products are treated fairly and equitably. As the first U.S. food retailer to offer Fair Trade Certified™ bananas, we now have the reassurance that we are doing our part to support banana farmers in Third World countries," said Perry Odak, President and CEO of Wild Oats Markets. "Wild Oats Markets realizes that as a leader in the natural and organic foods industry, we have a responsibility to go beyond providing quality food to customers. Through our partnership with TransFair USA, we have extended our commitment to providing customers with Fair Trade certified products and expect to continue to grow this commitment as more products that meet our demanding standards become available."
With bananas being the No. 1 selling produce item in terms of tonnage for most food retailers, making a commitment to replace its existing organic banana offering with Fair Trade Certified™ organic bananas is a groundbreaking step for Wild Oats Markets. The Company currently sells nearly 6 million lbs. of bananas each year and, by sourcing Fair Trade bananas for its organic banana supply, Wild Oats will truly be making a difference for banana farmers around the world.
"Wild Oats' launch of Fair Trade Certified™ bananas is a momentous event that will have a tremendously positive impact on hardworking farmers and their families. With banana farmers facing hardship, Wild Oats is sending a message to the rest of the food retail industry about the importance of Fair Trade certification," said Paul Rice, President and CEO of TransFair USA. Rice added, "TransFair's efforts to certify coffee, tea and cocoa have been extremely successful to date - adding other product categories into the mix is further proof that the model is working."
Fair Trade Certified™ products provide a point of differentiation for companies offering them. They also help companies build customer loyalty and tap into new consumer segments. With this initiative, Wild Oats Markets increases its industry-leading Fair Trade commitment. The Boulder, Colo.-based food retailer also sells Fair Trade coffee, tea and chocolate, and expects to add other Fair Trade produce items in the future.
How Fair Trade Certification Benefits Farmers
Fair Trade certification is a comprehensive international certification system that encompasses inspecting farms, monitoring social and environmental practices, and auditing the trade of certified products. The system benefits small-scale farmers and plantation workers. Fair Trade certification ensures that wages meet or exceed the legal minimum wage, and that child labor laws are adhered to. These minimum prices vary by country and organic status, and are designed to cover the costs of sustainable production and provide a decent standard of living for farming families. In Fair Trade, small-scale Fair Trade producers are organized into democratically run cooperatives and receive a fair price for their crop, no matter how low the market price falls.
On Fair Trade banana plantations, Fair Trade Certification ensures that owners can and do provide fair wages to their workers. Fair Trade standards ensure that management respects the rights of workers to be part of unions. Plantations also receive the minimum Fair Trade price, which covers basic production and labor costs.
Benefits for Worker Health and the Environment
Fair Trade certification requires that producers use sustainable agricultural practices, which protect workers and the health of the environment. It also ensures that farmers adhere to all national and international legislation regarding the use and handling of chemicals, and that the most dangerous chemicals are not used at all.
About Wild Oats Markets
Wild Oats Markets, Inc. is a nationwide chain of natural and organic foods markets in the U.S. and Canada. With nearly $1 billion in annual sales, the Company operates 102 natural foods stores in 24 states and British Columbia, Canada. The Company's markets include: Wild Oats Natural Marketplace, Henry's Marketplace, Sun Harvest and Capers Community Markets. For more information, please visit the Company's website at www.wildoats.com.
About TransFair USA
TransFair USA, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, is the sole Fair Trade certification organization in the U.S. Since its founding in 1998, TransFair has certified over 38 million lbs. of Fair Trade coffee, returning more than $31 million in additional income to small-scale coffee farmers. TransFair also certifies Fair Trade tea, cocoa, chocolate and bananas. To learn more, visit www.transfairusa.org.
History: Wild Oats Markets, Inc. started in Boulder, Colorado in 1987 with the purchase of a single natural foods store. The concept grew store by store into the nation's second largest natural and organic foods supermarket chain, with a family of 109 stores in 24 states and British Columbia, and annual sales of more than $1.1 billion. Philosophy: Wild Oats stands on a commitment to provide customers with the best selection of natural foods and health care products in a friendly, informative setting. Wild Oats strives to be a proactive member of its community, contributing to the lives of our customers, the communities we do business in and our staff. Wild Oats supports the local economy as much as possible by offering locally produced and manufactured products, including organic and locally grown produce. Wild Oats also supports the community by actively giving back through organized events and philanthropic giving. The company founded 5% Days, a program that earmarks 5% of the day's pretax sales to a selected non-profit organization.
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