On a warm summer day, in 2012, representatives from the worker-owned cooperative Equal Exchange visited the Co-op to talk about an idea nearly as old as the cooperative movement itself: co-ops helping co-ops.
The plan was to create a program that would close the loop on three parts of a completely cooperative, fairly traded supply chain: a farmer co-op, a worker-owned co-op (Equal Exchange), and a consumer co-op (the Co-op).
In 2013, the Co-op and Equal Exchanged launched the program, creating a line of delicious coffees made from beans harvested from fair trade growers in Mexico. High-quality avocados, grown by a Colombian cooperative, followed in 2015. And now, in 2016, the we’re thrilled to introduced our latest collection of products using this unique, fully cooperative model: cashews and mango.
“We’re really excited to be able to offer this,” said Jacob Vincent, a Co-op merchandiser. “It gives us unique, wonderful products for our shoppers, supports cooperatives and authentic fair trade, and builds up small farmer co-ops from around the world.”
What is a Supply Chain?
A supply chain is the process of getting products from farm to shelf to you. How does it work?
Taking cashews, for instance, raw nuts are harvested from trees and then transported from the farm to a manufacturing plant where they are processed. The cashews are then exported to Equal Exchange. Once at Equal Exchange, they are distributed to the Co-op.
Then they are put on the shelves for you!
A Different Kind of Supply Chain
Most products are brought to consumers through a supply chain. The problem is, there are often many links in the chain, and consumers don’t always know who, or what, all the links are. Not only can it affect the quality of the final product, but people can—and often are—exploited along the way, far from the vigilant eyes of consumers.
Imagine a food system where you know and trust the people who bring your food to you. Through our partnership with Equal Exchange, we are helping to build long-term, transparent supply chains, this time with cashew and mango farmers in Africa, India, and El Salvador. We know exactly where our products come from, who grows them, and how they are produced and processed. The partnership also supports authentic fair trade by buying, selling, and marketing products grown by small farmer cooperatives.
By buying our cashews and mango, consumers are helping Equal Exchange and the Co-op:
- pay farmers the highest possible price, as well as provide them with critical pre-harvest financing;
- work directly with farmer co-ops to help them find a caring market;
- preserve fragile ecosystems around the world; and
- support farmer co-op development projects.
Discover the Difference
Try our Co-op cashews and mango and discover the cooperative difference for yourself! Look for them in stores now, and check out our blog and in-store education displays for more information about the program and our farming partners.
Got a question or comment? We’d love to hear from you! Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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