Five years ago on the beach at Piha, we concocted a plan to bring Kiwis their first taste of Fairtrade fruit.
People called us, well, bananas.
But we had an idea that Kiwis might get behind other people getting a fair go.
It turns out we were right.
In 2009, not many New Zealanders knew where their bananas came from, or how hard it was for growers and their families to make a fair living from their produce. So Chris, Simon and Matt decided that day on Piha that it was time for a change.
New Zealand used to source it’s bananas from the Pacific, but increased demand and better shipping meant importers started looking to cheaper producers in South America and the Philippines.
When we started our search, we looked to the Pacific first. We worked with the Samoa’s Women in Business cooperative to create our organic banana chunks, but sadly there aren’t enough of the beautiful, sweet Misiluki bananas to satisfy New Zealand’s appetite for fresh fruit.
Our quest then turned to the other side of the Pacific and El Guabo, one of the world’s oldest Fairtrade cooperatives. We landed our first bananas in February 2010, and heaps of Kiwis asked their local stores to stock us.
Our friends at New World, Pak N’ Save, Four Square, Huckleberry Farm, Moore Wilson and Commonsense Organics supported us from the outset.
So how did we convince Kiwis to pay $1 more for a bunch of Fairtrade bananas? By telling a story of freshness - and fairness.
Farmers like Pedro and Graciella and Wilson Sanchez grow our bananas with over 430 other small farmers in an organic, sustainable way, for a stable and secure price, allowing them to have independence from the multinational banana companies and a future for their communities.
Our next idea led us to cola nut famers in the West African forests of Sierra Leone. Despite growing the naming ingredient of the biggest soft drink in the world, these farmers live an impoverished life. The big guys don’t use the real thing anymore, meaning there isn’t much demand for cola nut.
Chris, Simon and Matt thought that was wrong, and that’s how Karma Cola was born. It was soon followed by Gingerella, made with organic ginger from the small Wayamba region in Sri Lanka, and Lemmy Lemonade, made with organic Sicilian lemons.
The good news is our work has been recognised by the Ethisphere Institute in New York, who awarded us an ethical Oscar as one of the “World’s Most Ethical Companies in 2013.”
We’d just like to say a big thanks everyone who’s supported us on journey so far. And to those of you who are about to join us, welcome aboard.
There’s nothing like knowing its All Good!