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    Whole Foods Top Buyer of Fair Trade Certified Produce

    Whole Trade Guarantee label reaches $2.5 million mark.

    Whole Foods Market has paid more than $2.5 million in community development premiums for Fair Trade Certified produce and floral, a sum includes more than $1 million in banana premiums, more than $1 million in flower premiums, and more than $300,000 in pineapple premiums, all of which go to fund projects in the countries and communities that grow these products.

    “By purchasing Whole Trade Guarantee produce, our shoppers are not only getting high-quality products, but their purchases [also] help make a difference in the lives of the people who grow their food,” said John Walker, global produce coordinator at Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods. “Our team travels to the many countries where we source Whole Trade Guarantee produce, and we've seen first-hand the impact these premiums have made thanks to our shoppers' purchases.”

    Whole Trade Guarantee bananas, flowers, peppers and pineapples currently are sourced from Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru, Colombia and Mexico. Fair Trade Community Development premiums fund community projects such as schools, education programs and health services for children and adults. Worker organizations determine the community projects to use the premium money.

    “Fair Trade USA and Whole Foods Market are making a positive -- and significant -- difference in farming communities worldwide,” said Paul Rice, president and CEO of Oakland, Calif.-based Fair Trade USA. “Whole Foods Market is a one-stop shop for hundreds of high-quality Fair Trade Certified products, and the long-term commitment they have shown to farmers and farm workers across Latin America and the Caribbean is a model for the industry.”

    To earn the Whole Trade Guarantee seal, growers are third-party certified, ensuring that they pay fair wages and provide safe working conditions while caring for the environment. All Whole Trade Guarantee products meet Whole Foods' high quality standards, and the program provides more money to producers. In addition to Fair Trade USA, Whole Foods Market works with third-party certifiers like FLO, Rainforest Alliance and The Institute for Marketecology (IMO).

    “The Whole Trade Guarantee brings products from around the globe to our stores in a way that puts more money into the pockets of farm workers and small farmers while ensuring exceptional quality with the peace of mind that those foods are produced using environmental practices that promote biodiversity and healthy soils,” added Walker. “For example, members of the FINCAMAR banana cooperative in Colombia have used the Community Development premiums to support their children's education. Fair Trade premiums funded the purchase of uniforms, school supplies, teaching materials and tuition for 174 children. Also, workers at some of our Fair Trade Certified rose farms in Ecuador have used their premiums to create a low-interest loan program to help with home improvements such as hot-water heaters.”

    Whole Foods purchased more than half of all Fair Trade Certified bananas, flowers, pineapples and mangoes sold in the U.S. market, making it the top retailer in 2011 in those Fair Trade categories. These products are sold under the Whole Trade Guarantee label in stores. To date, Whole Foods Market has sold more than 1 million cases of Fair Trade Certified bananas, 500,000 cases of Fair Trade Certified pineapples, and 18 million Fair Trade Certified roses.

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