Bob's Red Mill Partners with Fair Trade USA® to Benefit Coconut Farmers

By: Elisabeth Allie | May 9 2020
Fair Trade Certified Coconut

Fair Trade Certified™ farming community in the Philippines, where we've sourced our coconut for decades.

In honor of World Fair Trade Day, we're proud to announce our official partnership with Fair Trade USA®!

For years, we've sourced coconut only from fair trade farmers for our coconut flour, our delicious flakedshredded and macaroon coconut. Now we're excited to announce that, starting this year, we're also partnering with Fair Trade USA® and can now proudly state that our coconut products are officially Fair Trade Certified™.

Why Partner with Fair Trade USA®?

At Bob's Red Mill, we value the farming communities who grow the nutritious crops we use to make our wholesome foods. That's why we purchase our delicious coconuts at above market cost, and we also make it a priority to work with other companies who share our values.

Bob Team Philippines

The Bob's Red Mill team visits one of the coconut farms we work with in the Philippines! Pictured: Meghan Keeley, Director of Food Safety and Quality, third from left, and Bill Lozier, Vice President of Operations and Supply Chain, second from right.

This includes our coconut suppliers, Peter Paul Philippine Corporation, whom we have worked with for decades. Over the years we've nurtured close relationships with them and the farmers they partner with. Recently, Bob's Red Mill CEO Dennis Vaughn and Vice President of Operations and Supply Chain Bill Lozier visited Peter Paul, a plant that processes 600,000 coconuts a day! While there, they traveled to the Catanauan Cluster, a Fair Trade Certified™ coconut farming community, where they met with farmers and watched the harvesting process.

This farmer group is one of five that supply Peter Paul’s processing facility with Fair Trade Certified™ coconuts. Since 2016, Bob’s Red Mill has contributed $200,000 to clusters supporting more than 7,000 fair trade farmers and their diverse community development programs, such as school meal programs, school supplies, scholarships, micro-lending, coconut replanting programs and calamity funds. Through partnership with Fair Trade USA®, we will be expanding this support of their work on the farms and in their communities.

Fair Trade and COVID-19

Much of our Fair Trade Certified™ coconut comes from farmer clusters at Peter Paul Candelaria. This year, the global pandemic caused work stoppages and supply chain disruptions that left many coconut farmers wondering how they would provide for their families. Fortunately, the clusters at Peter Paul Candelaria designate 5% of their premium each month to a Calamity Fund for use in case of emergency.

This year, the Fair Trade Committees used $20,000 USD from their Calamity Funds for the community’s response to COVID-19. So far, Fair Trade Committees were able to distribute critically needed food staples to 2,232 small farmers, ensuring that neither the farmers nor their families will go hungry during this difficult time.

Philippines Kids

Purchasing Fair Trade Certified™ benefits coconut farmers and their families.

How Fair Trade USA® Impacts the Global Market

In today's economy, compromises that negatively affect workers and the environment are often made in the pursuit of profit. That's why fair trade supports income and environmental sustainability, empowerment, and the well-being of farming communities in the following ways:

  • All businesses, farms, retailers and supply chain partners that work with Fair Trade USA® must meet rigorous standards that promote sustainable livelihoods and safe working conditions, protection of the environment, and strong, transparent supply chains. Rather than creating dependency on aid, Fair Trade USA®'s model empowers farmers and workers to fight poverty and earn additional money to improve their communities. To provide transparency for consumers, Fair Trade USA has developed multiple versions of their seal to indicate whether a product is made with either 20% or more or 100% Fair Trade Certified™ ingredients.
  • When you purchase Fair Trade Certified™ products like our coconut, additional money goes to the Community Development Fund of the originating farm, where it is spent on programs, as determined by a democratic vote of the farmers, to positively impact the environmental, social and economic well-being of the community.
  • By seeking the Fair Trade Certified™ seal on Bob's Red Mill coconut products and throughout your shopping trip, you can choose items knowing that an independent third party has verified that the people making your goods were working in safe conditions, protecting the environment, building sustainable livelihoods and earning additional money to empower and uplift their communities.
  • The Fair Trade Certified™ seal helps consumers identify these sustainably created products and helps spread awareness, creating an increased demand and driving more Community Development Premiums back to farmers around the globe.
Farmers Voting

Fair Trade Certified™ farmers review their projects and vote on how to proceed.

How Fair Trade USA® Benefits Our Farmers and Their Communities

By working with Fair Trade USA®, our coconut supplier has achieved wonderful things for the farming communities with which they work!

Clean Water: A water purifying station was created, providing a much-needed basic need to the entire community.

School Feeding Programs

One of several Fair Trade Certified™ School Feeding Programs.

School Feeding Programs: In the Philippines, malnutrition is one of the leading causes of low graduation rates. The school feeding program identifies some of the most malnourished children in each school in the community and provides a stipend to provide lunch. The teacher shops for the ingredients and educates the parents on nutritional planning. The parents then rotate to come to the school to prepare meals. Last year, this program benefited 542 children, with 97% no longer registering as malnourished by year-end.

Scholarships: Fair Trade members, their children and grandchildren are eligible for scholarships aimed at high school and college. During the 2017-2018 school year, 237 were granted.

Coconut Planting

Coconut replanting is an important focus.

Coconut Replanting Programs: Tree senility is a major factor affecting the limited supply of nuts in production. Coconut trees produce optimally from about 5 years of age until 50. However, the majority of the coconut trees in the Philippines were planted during or just after WWII, meaning they are well over 60 years old. This not only means fewer nuts for farmers to sell into production, but a more difficult time to germinate strong seedlings and a high investment of time and money. This program provides farmers training in sustainable planting practices and access to free seedlings.

Loans: Money is lent to members for business development and other needs, with a repayment rate of 98%.

At Bob's Red Mill, we've been an enthusiastic supporter of Fair Trade USA® for years, and we're so excited to take the next step and include the Fair Trade Certified™ seal on our coconut products. Look for our updated packaging, and know you're benefiting the people who created it with your purchase!

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