The future of Fair Trade pineapple appears to be golden as Dole begins offering Fair Trade organic pineapples from Costa Rica to the U.S. market.

While several companies are licensed to sell Fair Trade pineapple, Dole is the only one actually shipping them right now, said Hannah Freeman, senior manager for business development for TransFair USA, Oakland, Calif.

The nonprofit organization is the sole third party certifier of Fair Trade products in the U.S.

Westlake Village, Calif.-based Dole Fresh Fruit Co. signed an agreement in October to become the largest importer of Fair Trade-certified bananas and pineapples.

The only other major importer of Fair Trade-certified bananas, Freeman said, is Turbana Corp., Miami.

“We are presently approaching organic and Fair Trade pineapple on an account by account basis rather than by randomly bringing in fruit and running the risk of providing an inadequate return to our growers,” said Alan Dolezal, Turbana’s vice president of sales.

“This is consistent with Turbana’s overall philosophy of protecting our growers, as they are the life-blood of the company,” Dolezal said.

Public awareness

Over the past 10 years, the Fair Trade Certified label has gone from being an obscure consumer movement to a mainstream model for change, said Katie Barrow, TransFair’s public relations manager.

“Increased sales of Fair Trade-certified bananas in 2009 benefited thousands of banana workers,” Barrow said.

“A portion of each purchase price goes directly back to the farming families to fund scholarships for children, health care centers, and reforestation projects,” she said.

“We look forward to seeing the same benefits brought to the pineapple industry.”

Fair Trade fruit also makes a great marketing tool, Barrow said.

“Since everybody has gold pineapple now, retailers, growers, shippers and marketers need a way to set their pineapple apart from the rest,” she said.

“The most recognized social and environmental responsibility label, Fair Trade certified, is a great way to do that.”