Fair Trade USA, the third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in North America, has announced the launch of Fair Trade Certified coconut products into the global market. Beginning with coconut waters and oils, Fair Trade USA welcomes the versatile nut into its offerings with the aim of improving the lives of small-scale coconut farmers, and protecting workers in coconut processing facilities, company officials say.
Although coconut products are booming in popularity, the individuals producing them are not reaping the rewards, Fair Trade USA officials say. There is a significant gap between skyrocketing sales in North America, and poverty-level incomes earned by farmers in key coconut producing economies. In the Philippines, for example, 60% of coconut farmers live in poverty, they say. Some of the challenges faced by coconut growers include extreme poverty, unfavorable and variable prices, low yields and productivity, and mono-crop farming.
Fair Trade certification aims to address these and other issues, helping coconut farmers develop sustainable livelihoods and become better stewards of the land. One way this happens is through the rigorous Fair Trade standards which cover areas like child and forced labor, safe working conditions, water conservation and proper waste disposal. Another way is through the Fair Trade Community Development Premiums. On top of the sale price, farmers earn at least an additional 10% Premium for each coconut sold, officials say. These funds are then invested in community projects like healthcare, education, agricultural training and business development.
“We are proud to offer Fair Trade Certified coconut products to create new economic opportunities for coconut growers across the globe,” says Nora Pittenger, Fair Trade USA’s senior manager for consumer packaged goods. “With demand for coconuts on the rise, Fair Trade USA is empowering consumers and businesses to choose products that not only taste good, but also do good.”
The first Fair Trade Certified coconut products to hit store shelves include: Naked Coconut Water (1-liter), available at Whole Foods Market and Safeway; Nutiva Virgin Coconut Oil (15- and 23-ounce glass), available at Whole Foods Market, Safeway and Sprouts; and La Maison Orphée Coconut Oil in the U.S. and Canada. Soon to launch are Nutiva’s O’Coconut treats at Whole Foods Market, and Coco Libre Protein Coconut Waters.