Organics Unlimited started off 2021 by introducing its Fair Trade Certified organic banana label alongside its existing socially responsible GROW label and Organics Unlimited label organic bananas.
“We are excited about the possibilities of all three of our labels that we offer,” said Mayra Velazquez de León, president and CEO of the San Diego, CA-based company.
Mayra Velazquez de León, President and CEO, Organics Unlimited
The company’s Fair Trade and GROW labels are two paths to the same goal of advocating for sustainable prices for farmers and supporting growing communities. The goal of its new offering is to serve Organics Unlimited customers by providing two types of socially responsible labels to choose from.
“We are excited about the possibilities of all three of our labels that we offer.” - Mayra Velazquez de León
“Being a leader in organic bananas, our company looks forward to the upcoming year as we remain responsive to the marketplace and expanding our foothold in the organic industry,” Velazquez de León said. “We believe that by sharing the ‘true cost’ of food and educating consumers about what takes place prior to eating a banana, we feel energized about opportunities that exist moving forward.”
Organics Unlimited was originally founded in 2000 based on a desire to grow the healthiest, best-tasting bananas around utilizing knowledge gained from four generations of family firmly rooted in growing organic bananas.
“Our company was growing organic bananas long before it became trendy,” Velazquez de León said. “In fact, we grow organic bananas because this natural farming method produces the tastiest banana and is the safest way to plant, care for, harvest, and consume a banana. Avoiding harsh chemicals allows for farmers, communities surrounding farm fields, and banana consumers to enjoy a safe, natural fruit.”
Growing organic bananas in Mexico provides a short transit time to the US of just a few days from harvest, which means the company can respond to client needs quickly. The location also means better-tasting product with a longer shelf life and a lower carbon footprint.
Avoiding harsh chemicals allows for farmers, communities surrounding farm fields, and banana consumers to enjoy a safe, natural fruit.” - Mayra Velazquez de León
“Our GROW social responsibility program also holds appeal as a straightforward, transparent model with proven impact,” Velazquez de León said. “Since the program began in 2005, $0.60 for every box of GROW label bananas purchased has provided close to $3 million for our GROW fund to help farming communities that need it most in both Mexico and Ecuador.”
The company knows that now more than ever consumers want to see ethically sourced options in produce aisles.
“Since the program began in 2005, $0.60 for every box of GROW label bananas purchased has provided close to $3 million for our GROW fund to help farming communities that need it most in both Mexico and Ecuador.” - Mayra Velazquez de León
“Consumers specifically purchase organic for social responsibility reasons, and the shift toward conscious capitalism is here to stay,” Velazquez de León said. “We are the reliable one-stop shop for all sustainable organic banana options. We handle more than 30,000 cases of organic bananas each week and have 1,865 acres (nearly 755 hectares) of land available to accommodate current and future customer demand.”
The biggest challenge for Organics Unlimited is the high cost of organic banana production. Besides the extra cultural costs and the decrease in yield per hectare, all the certifications that are needed for organic production add expenses for the grower that are difficult to recoup in the current pricing environment.
“Consumers specifically purchase organic for social responsibility reasons, and the shift toward conscious capitalism is here to stay.” - Mayra Velazquez de León
“The field price for organic bananas has dropped 20 percent over the last few years even as the growers’ expenses have gone up due to rising labor and input costs,” Velazquez de León said. “For growers, the margins are so thin that smaller organic growers are being priced out of business. The retail community can help by supporting fair pricing and educating consumers on what constitutes a fair price—work that needs to be done especially on bananas, which have a price-capped image at retail. This is especially important as we continue to see lowball prices at some retail locations, which perpetuate bananas as the lowest-cost option while the reality is that costs are rising for organic growers.”
The COVID-19 global pandemic increased awareness around the importance of nutrition for health.
“Organic produce, such as our Organics Unlimited bananas, provides a healthy, reliable option for consumers who have reassessed the quality of food they put in their bodies to live a healthier lifestyle moving ahead,” Velazquez de León said. “We know that fresh organic produce remains in great demand during the COVID-19 era as US organic sales in 2020 jumped to a new record high of $61.9 billion according to the Organic Trade Association (OTA). Thanks to our strong network of small growers, we have been agile in our response to this increased demand.”
“Through its charitable fund dedicated to making positive social change, Organics Unlimited offers scholarships, health care support, environmental resources, and disaster relief to poverty-stricken banana growing regions,” Velazquez de León said. “We have expanded the GROW initiative by educating consumers and trade industry customers to the benefits of the program, which currently constitutes 90 percent of company sales through our GROW label bananas.”