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Wholesum Celebrates 10 Years Of Fair Trade Certification


Amado, Arizona-based Wholesum is celebrating its 10-year anniversary of Fair Trade Certification.

The company has maintained a commitment to sustainability, including 100 percent organic production. In 2012, the company solidified those commitments by obtaining Fair Trade Certification through the third-party certifier, Fair Trade USA.

“More than 30 years ago, we began our transition to 100 percent organic farming to grow healthier products for our consumers, create safer environments for our workers and lessen our impact on the planet. When we heard about how coffee workers were benefiting from the fair trade model, we explored the framework and found it to be a natural next step for us in our journey of responsible growing,” said Ricardo Crisantes, chief commercial officer.

“Around the world, workers on Fair Trade Certified farms were not only elevating production standards, but they were also using their fair trade premiums for community improvements of all kinds.”

In 10 years, the impact of the fair trade program at Wholesum includes:

  • More than $7.7 million generated in community development funds to invest in community projects that address community needs such as education, housing and healthcare;
  • Three Fair Trade Certified family farms, including two in Mexico and one in Arizona, making the farm in Arizona the first Fair Trade Certified farm in the U.S.;
  • Thousands of employees benefitting from projects across the family farms;
  • Three volunteer projects with industry partners that have resulted in two school kitchens, a classroom renovation and community center equipped with computers and small library;
  • In Wholesum Farms Sonora, community members have access to a community soccer field, mini market, tortilla factory, basketball court, community center and playground. Across other communities, workers have built community centers, clinics and laundromats for the convenience of the labor force;
  • More than 30 positions of employment outside of Wholesum have been created by fair trade committees to staff projects. Positions include bus drivers, teachers, nutritionists, daycare staff, store clerks, maintenance staff and dental workers.
  • Twelve partner growers who also operate under the fair trade framework and have created impact in their communities.
  • Sixty-seven percent of produce sold under Fair Trade Certified terms in 2021 as consumers become more conscientious and seek more responsibly grown produce options.

To celebrate, Wholesum has a lineup through the end of the year, which kicked off with a customer appreciation event last month during the Organic Produce Summit in Monterey, California, honoring partners who have supported the journey and contributed to the impact. There will also be workforce appreciation events at each family farm in October during Fair Trade Month to highlight the people behind the produce. 

“We are now 10 years into this experience and are deeply humbled when others approach us to learn about the process, the challenges and the successes,” Crisantes said. “We believe that there is strength in numbers and the more who subscribe to this framework, the more we can transmit the significance of ethically grown produce. We are always open to share our story and open the door to our farms to those who want to learn more.”

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Featured Photo PLMA Annual Private Label Trade Show
Donald E. Stephens Convention Center
Chicago, Illinois
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