In January 2016, Driscoll’s started selling Fair Trade Certified organic strawberries and raspberries from Baja California, Mexico. The program started small, pinpointing a specific region that could benefit with limited quantity. Given the success of the initial program, we’ve expanded to include an additional 1,000 workers and commit to certifying 100% of the fruit coming out of Baja California, Mexico by the end of 2019. Scaling the program means more opportunity for you to buy Fair Trade berries resulting in more funds to improve the lives of the farmworkers and their communities.
How Does the Fair Trade Certified Program Work?
BerryMex employees vote for candidates to participate in the general Fair Trade Certified committee elections later that day.
1. Certify: The Fair Trade Certified™ process includes a certification that upholds strict environmental and social standards that aligns with Driscoll’s comprehensive global labor standards.
2. Label: The Fair Trade Certified™ label is included on packaging to give you an easy way to identify these products.
3. Collect Premium: Berries are sold with an additional price premium, which is collected and directed into a community development fund.
4. Elect Committee: A Fair Trade Committee made up of local farmworkers are elected to represent their communities and determine how funds raised through the premium will be invested.
5. Vote: Through a combination of survey results and focus groups, the Fair Trade Committee surfaces the community’s biggest needs and works with their peers to vote on community development projects.
6. Coordinate Community Development Projects: A team made up of Fair Trade Committee members, Driscoll’s employees, independent growers, and Fair Trade team members leverage the funds to address needs in the community.
Impact of Driscoll's Fair Trade Certified™ Funds
Saidel Hernandez, BerryMex employee and Fair Trade Committee member, works a health fair in San Quintin, Baja, MX. Read Saidel’s Story.
Every time you buy a package of Fair Trade Certified berries, you are contributing to the Community Development Funds that address the local needs of our workers’ communities. Since its inception:
• More than 2 million crates of Fair Trade berries have been sold
• 6,500 workers are employed on Fair Trade farms
• 3,000 workers trained on work place safety and workers' rights
• Nearly 1 million dollars in funds have been generated to go back into projects that benefit the communities where our berries are grown
With the funds generated from the sales of Fair Trade Certified Berries, the Committee voted to invest in much needed health and educational projects.
Health Fairs Offering Free Medical Services
Daniel Reyes, a farmworker, and his two young sons receive their first ever dental exams. Photo credit: Nicole Franco.
Although Driscoll’s requires our independent growers to follow all local laws including payment of social security, there is limited availability of health clinics and hospitals in the community making it difficult for farmworkers to use their benefits to receive care. This finding led the committee to organize health fairs to allow access to the services they need.
Since 2017, hundreds of volunteers, including over 200 doctors and medical students, have volunteered their time and talents at 3 separate community health fairs across Baja California, Mexico. The “Feria de Saluds” enabled nearly 3,000 farmworkers and their families to receive medical care from specialists including gynecologists, dentists, and optometrists.
To learn more about our Health Fairs and its impact on the community, read Saidel’s story.
Distribution of School Supplies
Given the high cost of basic supplies needed to attend school, some children are forced to drop out. To address this need, the Fair Trade assembly voted to distribute more than 1,700 packages of school supplies to Baja families in 2017. Volunteers came together to distribute the backpacks filled with crayons, pencils, scissors, and stationery. This act has positive implications for school attendance and performance in the community.