After pioneering some of the world’s first Fair Trade-certified organic blueberries out of Argentina nearly a decade ago, Interrupcion Fair Trade is inviting U.S. consumers to buy its Fair Trade-certified organic bananas from Ecuador and benefit growers and the environment.
The label says it all: “Taste Me Do Good.”
“We found there is often an inconsistent or short supply of organic bananas in the marketplace, and we saw an opportunity to work with that item,” said Rafael Goldberg, Interrupcion’s New York-based chief executive officer of import marketing.
Goldberg sees Fair Trade as an extension of the consumer’s love affair with local produce.
“We see a lot of similarities between the connection consumers have to a local product and the connection they can get from an imported Fair Trade organic product,” he said.
“People want to know more about production, and make sure it’s doing something good for workers and for the environment.”
Interrupcion says its produce sales last year generated and delivered more than $180,000 in Fair Trade premiums to producer groups in Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and Ecuador.
Since its first load of bananas nearly a year ago, Goldberg said the group is importing 8,000 to 10,000 cartons a week from Ecuador. It also is developing supplies.
“We’ve seen good success from the northeast corridor down to the Mid-Atlantic and into the Midwest,” he said, “and we’ve worked with a wide range of partners, from smaller stores and medium-sized chains to large companies like Whole Foods.
“In several instances, sales are increasing 60% to 100% depending on the promotional schedule,” he said.
He said a development crew works closer with the producers and passes on customer feedback.
Interrupcion’s marketing approach reflects its young founders, with an emphasis on social networking tools that link consumers to videos and connections with consumers on Facebook.
Point-of-sale cards are also part of its strategy.
“It’s important to make the connection to the shopper when they’re at the store,” said Goldberg.
Though the industry perceives fair trade products as appealing to upper-income shoppers, Goldberg said Interrupcion has had great results in all markets, from mass market retailers to gourmet shops.
“Everybody wants a chance to buy products that are good for their family and good for the world,” he said.
“Movements such as sustainability, local, green or fair trade are being fueled by consumer interest that’s just as likely to start in a college classroom as it is in a church or other kind of community group that’s not divided on income but is based on values.”