By Nissa Pierson
The organic banana business is booming and, Coliman is an emerging leader with a unique position of proprietary supply.
Established in Tecoman, Colima, Mexico in 1963 as a banana and mango grower, Coliman is one of the largest organic banana growers in Latin America today. Tecoma, Mexico is located just south of Manzanillo on the country’s temperate pacific coast, offering perfect year round growing conditions for organic bananas.
Coliman was originally part of a small handful of growers that pioneered bananas in the area, one of the main growing regions for organic bananas in Mexico. The company continues to increase production, expand sustainability and social responsibility endeavors, gaining the attention of retailers in the highly competitive and rapidly growing tropical fruit market.
In 2012, Coliman completed a full organic conversion, converting 100 percent of their existing farms into certified organic. They simultaneously began to increase organic production by expanding the existing farms, acquiring additional acreage and building new packing facilities as global demand for organics continued to accelerate. Prior to 2015, Coliman began to see a large increase in organic and Fairtrade banana demand among USA/Canadian consumers and immediately began to boost production yet again, this time by about 35-40 percent. Additionally, they introduced social and sustainably certified products to their offerings by achieving third party audited certified Fairtrade America and Rainforest Alliance organic bananas.
Coliman currently has over 1,100 hectares of certified organic bananas in Tecoman; 800 of which are also certified Fairtrade America and Rainforest Alliance certified. They own 100 percent of the land in which their bananas are grown, controlling their entire production. In total, Coliman oversees three farms and five packing houses, including their newest build out---- a state of the art, 25,800 square foot organic banana packing facility -Palenque, which opened this past summer.
Coliman has some additional advantage as compliance issues (certifications, food safety, and third party audits) continue to be a hot topic, by not having to source from a myriad of several small growers and consolidate in multiple locations before packing and shipping. They also own their own Mexican logistics company, providing one more sector of control in the supply and distribution chain.
With over 1,200 full time local workers in Tecoman, many of which have spanned three generations, sustainability and social responsibility have been a part of the core values of the company, says Victor Heredia, U.S. Sales Manager for Coliman.
“Bottom line, we care about our people. We are all family, and family takes care of each other,’ Heredia said. “It’s a company philosophy that we take nothing with us when we leave this earth, so leaving a lasting memory and legacy for what we do for those in our lives; our family, friends, workers, and customers, is what matters most. The Organic, Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance certifications simply validate our daily actions and helps establish the structure needed to execute our philosophy.”
Coliman currently supplies organic and organic-Fairtrade bananas to markets in the USA, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Russia, Germany, Netherlands, United Kingdom and New Zealand.