For Jacobs Farm/Del Cabo — a Pescadero, Calif.-based grower-shipper of specialty fruits, vegetables and herbs — organics are only one part of its business model.
The company says its “social mission” is its heart.
“We’ve always had a social mission — alleviate poverty for small growers,” marketing director Marina Pace said. “Our focus has been in Mexico, and now we’re expanding into Central and South America through a new alliance.”
Jacobs Farm/Del Cabo is working with Fairtrasa, an organization founded in Mexico that has spread into Central and South America.
Fairtrasa seeks to “develop millions of marginalized small-scale farmers around the globe and connect them to local and international markets to lift them out of poverty,” according to Fairtrasa’s website, www.fairtrasa.com.
This month, Jacobs/Del Cabo began shipping Fair Trade-certified organic bananas into the U.S. and Canada from Peru as part of its partnership with Fairtrasa. The banana deal follows similar agreements launched in 2012 to ship Fair Trade-certified avocados, mangoes and limes.
“For a lot of folks, it’s a marketing tool to help consumers feel they’re buying products that are ethical,” Pace said. “When they see that label, they are assured that that’s really happening. We’ve been making sure farmers receive a fair price for their products.”
Growers are guaranteed fair market prices, plus a “social premium” — money set aside for “community development projects,” Jacobs Farm/Del Cabo said in a news release.
The Fair Trade component also addresses worker wages and living conditions, the company said.
“Not only are we able to provide greater variety and stronger supplies overall of certified organic products, we are also helping build a sustainable agricultural economy in Peru, resulting in prosperity for an additional 2,500 farmers,” Jacobs Farm founder and chief executive officer Larry Jacobs said in a news release.
Jacobs and Sandra Belin started Jacobs Farm in 1980, and in 1985 they created the Del Cabo farming cooperative with the stated goal “to end poverty while protecting the environment and promoting social development.”
Opportunities come through funding, training and market access, transforming the lives of small-scale, marginalized growers, creating robust communities and fostering sustainability.
Del Cabo has basil, herbs, fruit, cherry tomato and vegetable growing operations in the Mexican states of Baja California and Sonora.
Fair Trade practices benefit 1,300 Del Cabo growers, the company said.
Adding Fair Trade bananas to the product lineup is a big step, Pace said.
“It’s one of the world’s top-selling fruits, as we all know, and it has an ability to have a huge impact on some of these small communities,” she said. “Typically, those farmers are incredibly impoverished, so we see this as a way to fulfill our social mission.”
Giving growers their due is nothing new with Jacobs Farm/Del Cabo, but Fair Trade certification is an important imprimatur, Pace said.
“We’ve always been socially responsible and made sure our farmers received a very fair price for their product,” she said.