Though he’s impressed with Oke’s commitment to the cause, Croft said retailers considering Fair Trade should expect some bumps in the road in terms of quality and supply.
“Folks who carry conventional or even an organic Dole banana are going to have more surface scarring than they’re used to,” he said. “The fact is, the way the bananas are harvested and transported to packing stations is often much more rudimentary in these smaller co-ops than you get from a standard banana plantation.”
For MOM’s, however, the trade-off is worth it, Croft said.
Simcha Weinstein, director of marketing for Bridgeport, N.J.-based Albert’s Organics, attributes the growth in Fair Trade organic sales over the past few years to Albert’s promotion of the brand.
“If you simply put a little sign up over Fair Trade bananas and expect them to move, that’s not going to happen,” Weinstein said. “Consumers need to be educated about why it’s important and how their shopping dollars are going to benefit the farmers and their communities,” she said.
The organic distributor offers signs, fliers and a video shot on farms in Peru and Ecuador that can be played in the produce department, she said.