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KeHE’s CARETrade Helps Retailers Reach More Conscious Consumers

KeHE Cares caretrade

Naperville, Illinois-based KeHE has introduced its new 2021 class of CAREtrade partners. The program, founded in 2017 by employees, identifies and promotes brands that advance a higher purpose than commercial success. CAREtrade aligns with KeHE’s core mission and dedication, to serve to make lives better. As identified in KeHE’s 2021 Trends to Watch, consumers are leaning into purposeful purchases with Fair Trade certification and claims growing 5 percent over the last year. Through the support of the program, past CAREtrade suppliers have grown their KeHE sales by 25 percent.

“For us, CAREtrade joins the power of capitalism and community to fight these plagues [like human trafficking or violent crimes] … These companies are doing the hard work and you can support them by simply purchasing their great products; items you use daily,” said Robert Bradley, president and co-founder of Ramona Family Naturals and a KeHE customer.

“While the program has enabled these brands to reach more retailers and sales than before, that is only a fraction of their success. The program ultimately enables multiple parts of the food marketplace work toward a common goal of doing good. Through CAREtrade, we connected brands to other partners to drive their mission of serving their communities and those in need,” said Scott Silverman, VP of business development and CAREtrade committee leader.

For example, Small Axe Peppers, one of five new CAREtrade partners, connects community gardens with ethically conscious customers through its hot sauce. The company donates seeds to more than 100 community gardens across America, including gardens run by KeHE Cares partners, each with a unique social mission that reflects the surrounding neighborhood.

The new CAREtrade partners for 2021 include:
• Chickapea, dedicated to feeding healthy meals to children in need, donates three cents from every package of chickpea or lentil pasta sold. A portion of the profits also goes toward community education on sustainable agriculture.
• KiZE, meaning continuous improvement or change for the better in Japanese, has a mission to help others become their best-self through food, service and charity. Through its mission, the company focuses on feeding and building self-sustaining communities in Haiti, along with its focus on underserved youth in the Oklahoma City area. The brand’s nut butter-based bars reflect its mission, comprised of simple, high-quality and real food ingredients.
• Small Axe Peppers donates pepper seeds to organizations, then throughout the growing season, community gardeners sell the peppers back to Small Axe at a premium to produce the brand’s hot sauce. This, in turn, creates a sustainable revenue stream for vital community development work.
• Teeccino, an alternative brand of premier herbal coffees and teas, utilizes botanicals from developing countries to create a new source of income to empower women in rural communities. The company also supports nutrition education programs through cooperative organizations to better utilize available food resources and improve health across communities involved in the supply chain.
• Ziba Foods’ mission is to help re-establish Afghanistan’s position as a world-renowned producer of the highest quality dried fruits and nuts while building a credible global supply chain. Through their traceability and farmer-direct advance pay, the company can fairly compensate farmers while supporting its mission. More than 80 percent of the company’s workforce consists of women, with the brand offering marginalized women year-round and full-time employment.

The five CAREtrade partners will join Beyond Good, Naya Natural Foods, Project 7, Rumi and Equal Exchange – brands inducted in the 2020 class continuing in the program for a second year. Bhakti, This Bar Saves Lives, NuttZo, World Centric and The Soulfull Project, the 2019 class, graduated from the program after two successful year in CAREtrade.

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