Courtesy The Giumarra Cos.Kellee Harris, western region business manager for The Giumarra Cos., and Gil Munguia, Nogales division manager, check on the company's squash plants in west Mexico.The addition of organic and conventional acorn, butternut and spaghetti winter squash from Mexico to The Giumarra Cos.’s Fair Trade-certified line of fresh produce in November follows a well-established trend for the company.
“For several years, we have offered a broad range of Fair Trade-certified products including grapes, melons and asparagus,” said Gil Munguia, Nogales, Ariz., division manager for Los Angeles-based Giumarra. “We will continue to expand upon that line.”
The numbers seem to reward that commitment. Fair Trade produce volumes were up 48% in the first half of 2013 over the same period the year before, said Alexandria Coari, senior manager of produce and floral for Fair Trade USA.
Total imported volume was up 58% for 2012 as new growers joined the system and retailers and others began carrying more items, Coari said.
Giumarra is banking on growing numbers of consumers making social issues a higher priority.
“Within this group, knowing where their food comes from and that it is safe is no longer enough,” Munguia said. “Fair Trade labeling, point-of-sale information and stories about growers and farm workers truly empowers the consumer.”
The new winter squash items from Giumarra should be available through March. Like much of the company’s other fare, the organic squash is under the Nature’s Partner label. Some appear under growers’ private labels.
In July, one of Giumarra’s distributors received a survey of customers to gauge awareness and potential demand for Fair Trade fresh produce.
“A majority were not only aware but actively promoting produce alongside other Fair Trade-certified goods,” said Kellee Harris, Giumarra's western region business manager.
Organics grow at Giumarra
In the overall organic category, Giumarra expects a sharp increase in Mexico production.
“Organic acreage has increased markedly,” Munguia said. “Our division will see a 35% to 40% percent production increase this season.”
In mid-November, Munguia returned from a tour of mainland Mexico farming operations. Many crops were already in production, and others were on the verge of breaking.
“Quality and volume projections are excellent,” Munguia said. “We’ll be headed out to Baja California in the next couple of weeks to inspect our organic and conventional farms across the gulf. They are also very close to production.”