Earlier this year, Woodbury, Minn.-based retailer Kowalski’s Markets made a major change in its fresh banana program.
The company decided to begin sourcing Fyffes Fair Trade Certified bananas exclusively, said Max Maddaus, produce director.
“We’re always looking for a point of differentiation, and this is a story about sustainability that we obviously wanted to get on board with,” he said. “It really aligns with our company philosophy.”
The Fyffes Fair Trade program’s commitment to ensure that workers in Columbia and Ecuador have good working conditions and benefits dovetailed perfectly with Kowalski’s mission of serving its community in the most responsible ways possible.
Initially, Kowalski’s saw bump in banana sales due to the switch. The program has been supported with point-of-sale signs, a robust presence on social media and information in the Kowalski’s magazine.
Sales have since returned to more normal levels. But sales aren’t the reason Kowalski’s decided to begin selling Fair Trade bananas, Maddaus said.
In fact, Kowalski’s knew going into the deal that the program came with a premium and that fruit might cost more. But, as Maddaus put it, the retailer doesn’t make that much money on bananas anyway. And whatever the difference in cost to the company was, it would be more than worth it to support such a good cause.
Kowalski’s is currently considering adding more Fair Trade fresh produce products to its lineup, Maddaus said. Fair Trade raspberries from Driscoll’s are among the other Fair Trade SKUs that have already been on Kowalski’s shelves. Grapes or strawberries are other commodities Maddaus said Kowalski’s could in Fair Trade formats.