With this partnership, more than $2 million has been directed to providing NatureSweet workers with livable wages, literacy and education opportunities, and funds for community development projects. With the expansion, more than $3 million will be generated annually to support the program.
SAN ANTONIO, TX, October 17, 2023 – NatureSweet, the number one snacking tomato brand and leading greenhouse-grown produce company, is committed to grow 100% of its branded snacking tomato products in accordance with Fair Trade Certified™ standards. All NatureSweet branded tomatoes –– which include Cherubs®, Glorys®, Constellation®, Comets™, Twilights™, and D’Vines™–– are Fair Trade Certified, meeting rigorous safety, environmental protection, and sustainable livelihood standards. This ensures NatureSweet produce is harvested and packaged in an environment with safe working conditions, one in which workers earn sustainable livelihoods. A percentage of profits from NatureSweet’s Fair Trade Certified™ products called a Fair Trade Premium are contributed to a community development fund, which helps support initiatives that are transforming the lives of more than 6,000 agricultural workers in North America. The community development fund is employee-run, which means NatureSweet associates decide and direct where resources should go.
In 2021, NatureSweet partnered with Walmart to launch a pilot program to sell Fair Trade Certified tomatoes. Proceeds stemming from that initiative, paid by Walmart, helped launch the community development fund. With this expansion, NatureSweet will now direct a portion of proceeds from snacking tomato sales to finance the fund.
With Walmart’s support over the last couple of years, $1 million has been generated annually to support the community development fund. To date, $2.4 million is being invested in community development projects, such as:
- Dental Cleanings and Services – Prior to the program 70% of associates had not received dental care. However, the program provided associates access to care from dental hygienists and dentists, leading to more than 1,000 associates receiving dental care. The program also includes equipping associates with vouchers so that their family members can also access dental care in their local community.
- Nutrition Counseling and Healthy Food – Dietitians provide nutritional counseling and monthly meal plans in line with healthy eating recommendations. The fund also led to the creation of a food pantry stocked with nutritious food options that associates can easily access.
- Eye Care – 40% of associates and their family members suffered from visual problems and were not able to access eye care. Thanks to the program, associates receive eye exams and glasses free of charge.
“I am grateful for the program because I urgently needed eyeglasses and did not have the resources to pay for them,” says Maria Guadalupe Sepulveda de Leon, a NatureSweet associate. “Thanks to the Fair Trade committee and their support, I was able to obtain them.”
To date, more than 2,100 NatureSweet employees have benefitted from the six projects that have been implemented this year. NatureSweet has expanded the Fair Trade program with multiple partners in the industry. It is estimated that the program will impact more than 10,000 agricultural workers.
“Our associates are not only the reason for our success, but they are also the ‘why’ behind what we do,” said Rodolfo Spielmann, President and CEO of NatureSweet. “Our desire is to give our workers the best we can because they earn it, including education and competitive wages. We invite all growers to join in the movement.”
A dentist performs a dental examination on a NatureSweet employee in Tuxcacuesco, Mexico.
(Courtesy of NatureSweet.)
“NatureSweet’s life-changing initiatives are an example of the positive difference one company can make in an entire industry,” said Paul Rice, Founder and CEO of Fair Trade USA. “We are excited about their work and can’t wait to see others join the movement.”
In addition to dental cleanings, nutrition counseling, and eye care, NatureSweet works to improve the lives of its associates by paying workers a livable wage (approximately 40% above median wage for agricultural workers in Mexico), investing in literacy and educational opportunities including most recently piloting a bachelor’s degree program, and investing in their mental health by providing 1-on-1 therapy and a three month program that teaches self-improvement topics ranging from human development to parenting, communication, and problem-solving.
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For more information about NatureSweet and its efforts to transform the lives of agricultural workers in North America, visit www.naturesweet.com.
NatureSweet is the single-source solution for greenhouse-grown vegetables and is the #1 best-selling brand in snacking tomatoes. The largest vertically integrated agriculture company in North America, NatureSweet guarantees great tasting produce year-round, both organic and conventional. Our vegetables are carefully grown, harvested, and packaged by more than 6,000 directly employed company Associates. NatureSweet tomatoes, cucumbers, and sweet peppers are handpicked at the peak of freshness and sold at major supermarket retailers throughout the United States, Mexico, and Canada. NatureSweet is dedicated to having a positive social, environmental, and economic impact within our communities, and our commitment is to transform the lives of agricultural workers throughout North America. This work, as well as our efforts regarding sustainability, have led us to earn B Corp, Fair Trade, and the Equitable Food Initiative (EFI) certifications. NatureSweet, headquartered in Texas with facilities in Arizona and Mexico, is the largest Controlled Environment Agriculture company in the world to be B Corp, Fair Trade, and EFI certified.
Fair Trade USA
Fair Trade USA, a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is the leading certifier of Fair Trade products in North America. Its award-winning, rigorous, and globally recognized sustainable sourcing certification programs improve livelihoods, protect the environment, and build resilient, transparent supply chains. The trusted Fair Trade Certified™ label on a product signifies that it was made according to stringent Fair Trade standards. Fair Trade USA is building an innovative model of responsible business, conscious consumerism, and shared value to eliminate poverty and enable sustainable development for farmers, workers, their families, and communities around the world.
Fair Trade USA
Billy Linstead Goldsmith