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Showing posts tagged “raisins”

Brown or Yellow raisins? That is the question

The family farmers at Mi Fruta, a Fairtrade cooperative in Chile, never doubted their brown, sun-dried, natural raisins until Italian importer Chico Mendes Modena came in search of suppliers. The farmers were so excited at the possibility of a sale that they didn’t bother to inquire what type of raisins the importer wanted to buy.

Which is why they were surprised when the importer told them that they were interested in yellow raisins.

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The producers at Mi Fruta do not produce yellow raisins preferring to maintain their sun-drying system. Though sun drying darkens the raisins, it uses free and natural energy from the sun and requires no additives to preserve it.

They realized they would need to convince the buyers with the positive qualities of the brown raisin. They discovered that yellow raisins have that color because they are treated with sulfur dioxide, which allow them to keep their yellow color. However, as indicated by the Codex Alimentarius, it’s not possible to consider raisins as natural if they have been treated this way.

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Valeria Bigliazzi, from Chico Mendes Modena Cooperative, took this information with her back to Italy to motivate her buyers to choose brown raisins over the yellow ones. A few weeks later, the producers received word that the importer was able to convince their buyers with these arguments and the brown raisins were purchased. A purchasing plan has been established for this year and the raisins are being sold as snack, as well as ingredients for oven-prepared bakery, such as pastry and panettone.

The same importers are also buying Chilean walnuts, from Agronuez, another Fairtrade association of family farmers that have an exceptional quality, as well as the advantage of availability during the off season for walnuts in Europe.

Get Your Fairtrade Rice & Raisins Here! Stories from Biofach

I love the way Fairtrade makes the world that bit smaller; that it connects people across continents and cultures, all with a common goal of making global trade fairer.

Like me and Himanshu Baghel. I never thought I would see him again, and yet there he was, just a few stands down from us at the Biofach fair.

Himanshu works for Agrocel, Indian producers of Fairtrade and organic basmati rice. He helped organize my trip to their farms just over a year ago, calmed me down on the phone when I was stranded at Delhi airport. I walked through their paddy fields, saw the rice being processed and bagged up. I watched farmers using laser-land leveller and rice-sifting machinery that they had bought with the Fairtrade Premium.

I was obviously curious to hear how Agrocel had developed since our last encounter. Good news - their Fairtrade sales have increased to around 60 percent of production. But Himanshu is determined to achieve more.

“We are happy with the Fairtrade system, the farmers are happy but what we need is more market,” he tells me. “There is so much potential for doing good with the farmers, but we need more sales to do that”.

To help achieve this, Agrocel are encouraging farmers to diversify into other products. Raisins are their latest offering. But finding a Fairtrade buyer is now the problem. Their raisins are relatively expensive compared to other countries, and rather pale in colour. But I can vouch for the taste, and the great work that is behind it.

So who’s interested in buying?

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