Demand for Fair Trade-certified organic products stays fairly steady, with a few category exceptions.
Bananas and other tropical fruits remain at the top of the list, with the highest demand from consumers, according to Diane Dempster, manager of the Farmer’s Own program and local organic procurement for Charlie’s Produce, Seattle.
“There has not been much interest for other items at this time,” Dempster said.
“Banana or mango are generally what we see,” said Earl Herrick, president and founder of Earl’s Organic Produce, San Francisco, Calif., referring to the specific commodities that he’s seen gain in popularity in regards to demand for Fair Trade certification.
Still, the interest is there, even if it’s still relatively small.
Simcha Weinstein, director of marketing for Albert’s Organics, Bridgeport, N.J., has noticed an increase in the company’s Fair Trade programs.
“Since 2006, Albert’s Organics has been a strong and reliable partner in supporting Fair Trade products,” he said.
The program offers serveral benefits, he said.
“This support helps provide small farmers direct access to international markets and the tools and resources they need to succeed and thrive,” Weinstein said.
The company is proud of this opportunity to help.
“Through its purchases, Albert’s Organics has contributed nearly $500,000 in community development funds to banana-growing communities in Ecuador and Peru since 2006,” he said in an e-mail.
Weinstein says that support is growing.
“Albert’s has grown their commitment to Fair Trade each year, averaging over 60% growth year over year,” Weinstein said. “In 2010, Albert’s Organics sold over 4.5 million pounds of Fair Trade product, which is over 9% of the overall Fair Trade product sold worldwide.”
That growth seems to be natural, considering the customer base for organic products.
“A lot of times we see an overlap in the consumers for those segments. A consumer motivated to purchase organic would also be interested to purchase Fair Trade and locally sourced products,” said Addie Pobst, organic integrity and sustainability lead for CF Fresh, Sedro-Woolley, Wash.
Room for growth
Pobst says that one reason other commodities haven’t followed in the same footsteps as tropical fruits is that the sourcing and production process are set up much differently.