When the world shut down for COVID-19-related reasons, growers and farm workers were affected in a host of different ways. Demand for fresh produce from restaurants and schools declined, but retail grocery demand skyrocketed. The steep imbalance between supply and demand among various areas of the food and beverage industry cancelled out for some growers, while it created huge surpluses or shortages for others.
Growing produce is both an art and a science, but most growers will tell you that 2020 provided challenges that no grower was ready for, and like so many other industries, produce growers experienced the gamut of uncertainty.
As growers and farm workers—and the world for that matter—try to recover from the lasting effects of a global pandemic, it’s our responsibility as an industry leader in fresh produce to support these essential producers of the fresh and nutritious food that feed our world. We are making significant strides in supporting growers and farm workers through strategic collaboration and innovation.
How fair-trade certified products can improve conditions for growers
Over the past few years, Robinson Fresh® has partnered with Fair Trade USA to offer a number of Fair Trade Certified™ products, such as watermelons and limes, in collaboration with growers across the world. Our Fair Trade Certified products program supports income stability for growers, community development, and environmental stewardship, so growers and their families can thrive for generations to come. As a matter of fact, in the first year of Robinson Fresh’s fair trade program, farm workers in our supply chains earned over $47k in additional Fair Trade Premium funds for investment into their communities.
Fair Trade USA empowered more than 675,000 growers and workers in 45 countries last year and has provided $740 million dollars in financial aid for the grower community. In fact, since 2004, the Fair Trade Certified products produce program has generated over $65 million dollars in community development funds for project, education, healthcare, housing/infrastructure improvements, and more.*
Grower support makes a difference on a shelf for consumers
Consumers care about growers and farm workers and the long-term positive impact they can make through their purchasing choices. When shopping, consumers look for trusted, sustainable brands. In fact, 95% of consumers trust Fair Trade USA Certification, driving an increase of 3.3% sales dollar on average for most retailers. *
We offer a host of different fair-trade products and work with our customers to identify and implement the product programs they want to promote to align with their goals.
Grower support beyond fair trade and into a sustainable future
Beyond giving back to growers and farm workers through financial means, Robinson Fresh has a direct connection and ability to support the grower community through:
- Crop and harvest planning: We help growers plan crops according to vast historical foodservice and grocery supply demands, while providing valuable insights on labor reduction and supply cost reduction in an effort to provide the best grower returns. By supporting growers from the ground up, we also have the ability to align supply with customer demand to ensure year-round supply.
- Grower education: Growers who want to continue to have a successful product and growing business year after year are connected with our experts. We promote and provide knowledge on the best practices in farming, fertilization, cross-pollination, yield optimization, business management, and more. With teams of “in the crop” personnel, we help to establish growing practices that ensure the best possible yields.
- Sustainability support: Today, and for future generations, it’s critical to use farming techniques that protect public health, animal welfare, and the environment. Beyond providing sustainable environmental and physical health benefits, we also provide support to growers with financial services so their businesses can survive well into the future.
Robinson Fresh’s work with Fair Trade is one of several sustainability initiatives from C.H. Robinson. Recently, the company developed and launched a sustainability-focused tool, Emissions IQ. This is the first self-serve tool in the industry that gives companies instant visibility into their carbon emissions across all transportation modes globally.
*According to: Fair Trade Consumer Insights | Fair Trade Certified