Banana importer, packer and distributor J N Fox and Sons is pushing ahead with its strategy to source sustainable fruit as part of its partnership with a Costa Rican plantation operated by EARTH University.
Speaking with PBUK, import and development manager, Kristy Fox explains how the UK-based family business sources Rainforest Alliance certified bananas from supplier EARTH University, a private, nonprofit university for agricultural education which also has its own plantations.
“EARTH has a commercial plantation that runs alongside the university so any profits that are made from the plantation are used to fund scholarships for students in the university, which is a fantastic idea we are extremely happy to support,” she says.
“It’s a non-profit organisation that takes students from 39 countries around the world with social and environmental sensitivities. We really want to get the message out there again this year about the importance of sustainable sourcing, which is why we’re at the London Produce Show next week.
“At the moment we work with the Rainforest Alliance and we have taken the audit in the UK that is required. We also work with the Fairtrade Foundation to import fairtrade bananas and we are pushing that forward as much as we can.
“Currently all of the bananas sourced from EARTH university are Rainforest Alliance certified and that takes up a large percentage of what we import.”
Corporate responsibility is important to the J N Fox and Sons business model, says Fox who will be joined at next week’s trade show by Roger Ruiz, EARTH University’s general manager of agro commercial operations, as well as other university delegates.
This is the second time the partnership has exhibited at the LPS and this time around J N Fox and Sons will also be exploring the potential market opportunities for a brand new business venture it is looking into with EARTH University.
“We’re really excited about a possible new venture involving dried bananas, mango and pineapple that have also been grown by EARTH University and could be shipped over to the UK for sale in retailers,” Fox continues.
“The dried fruit really does have some serious credentials in as much as it’s gluten-free and with no added preservatives. They are a great tasting snack and currently come in pack sizes of 40g, 80g and160g.
“It’s something that EARTH has been looking at over the last few years and we are quite keen to bring this into the UK and we want to talk to some of the retailers about it to get an idea of the market opportunities out there right now.”