Cooperation among cooperatives is the sixth international cooperative principle. Few organizations can lay a stronger claim to putting it into action than Equal Exchange. Since our founding 31 years ago, our very mission, organizational model, and business practices are lived out in adherence to this core value.
Tags: fair trade
Mildred AlvaradoApril 4, 2017
The first five months of the year are usually the most difficult for our small-scale banana farmer partners due to weather difficulties. Problems due to the rainy season are expected. However, what’s happening this year is unusual. The intensity of the rains has put our farmer partners and the Oké USA banana team against new challenges that we were unprepared for. There has been a lot of creative problem solving and last minute decision making in order to fulfill orders on time. In these challenging times, we do everything on our end in order to support our farmer partners by: coordinating with shipping lines, giving credit to buy inputs such as boxes, and supporting staff through logistics and technical assistance, all in order to help them harvest the fruit and fulfill orders on time.
Equal ExchangeApril 3, 2017
Torrential rainfall in Peru has triggered landslides and flooding, causing devastation across large parts of the country, including Lima, Piura, Lambayeque, Tumbes, Cajamarca and Ica. Many communities have been cut off by damaged roads, making access to services very difficult. Equal Exchange has had particularly deep relationships with farmer cooperatives in Piura, dating back 20 years with coffee. Our banana affiliate, Oké USA, also began sourcing bananas from co-ops a decade ago, and more recently we have sourced mangos from the region.
Equal ExchangeMarch 28, 2017
In Part One, we described key problems we need to address, challenge and solve if we want to create a just food system. In Part Two, post one, we dug into the successes and failures of Fair Trade and Certifications as food system reforms. And now, we look to Food Co-ops and Boycotts. Equal Exchange grew directly from the food co-op movement. The Equal Exchange founders—Michael Rozyne, Jonathan Rosenthal and myself—all worked at the New England food co-op warehouse. This was a secondary, consumer-owned warehouse that was initially collectively run when we began and then had a general manager four years later as we were exiting Northeast Co-ops for the birth of Equal Exchange in the mid-1980s.
Equal ExchangeMarch 21, 2017
There have been movements and models that have attempted to address, challenge and change problems in the food system, and create food justice, solidarity, and authentic citizen-consumer actions. Over the next two posts we will examine and analyze four different reforms spawned by these movements and explore what they accomplished and failed to accomplish. From this learning we believe we can be more effective in all of our food justice work and, ultimately, lay the framework for what we need to do as the Equal Exchange Action Forum.
Mildred AlvaradoMarch 13, 2017
Last October, we welcomed organic banana farmer Mariana Cobos to the Twin Cities to celebrate our 10 year anniversary importing bananas from AsoGuabo Cooperative in Ecuador. “I would like to express my gratitude for the opportunity to tell my story about the true history of small-scale banana farmers,” Mariana said during the visit. That story is filled with the difficulties, the challenges, and the inequity that small-scale farmers face.
Ashley SymonsMarch 7, 2017
Carly Kadlec is the Green Coffee Buyer at Equal Exchange, and one of the women that inspires me in our work toward trade justice. I’ve been fortunate to travel with Carly on visits to coffee farms in Honduras and Guatemala. Since March 8 is International Women’s Day, I wanted to sit down with Carly and talk about her work with coffee producers ... but, she’s on the road, as she often is, so we bring you this Q&A, across 2,500 miles.
Leif Rawson-AhernFebruary 28, 2017
Equal Exchange has worked in the tea industry for more than 20 years. Our tea program is still relatively small, but we have leveraged our limited volume to support and strengthen a number of small-scale farmer groups in India and Sri Lanka. Small farmer cooperatives are incredible rare in the tea industry which was built on colonial plantations from the ground up. When considering the larger industry context, it is remarkable that our small-scale tea co-op partners exist at all.
Equal ExchangeFebruary 7, 2017
Over the course of our first 30 years, Equal Exchange has set out to do essentially three things: Build supply chains that work for small-scale farmers and their democratic organizations. The manifestation of this work in the U.S. market is high quality products at prices that can compete with the corporate-controlled food system. But to arrive at that point, countless hours and dollars have been expended, and many failures have been experienced along the way.
Equal ExchangeJanuary 27, 2017
The Women’s March on Washington (and elsewhere) on Jan. 21 brought many of us to the streets, to stand in solidarity with those most vulnerable to systems of oppression and prejudice. Our daily work to build supply chains for small-scale farmers touches many of the issues that were marched for, from climate change to gender justice to indigenous people’s rights. Here are some of the reasons we marched, in our own words.