For more than 450 million people around the world, bananas are a vital staple crop.
Bananas are hands down the world’s most popular fruit. And with an estimated global export value of $7 billion dollars per year, they’re also likely one of the most essential cornerstones of many countries’ economies. Yet amid spiking production costs for packing materials and fertilizers combined with the economic fallout of climate change, COVID-19, and the fight against plant diseases like Fusarium TR4, banana producers are coming under increasing financial pressure, placing their livelihoods, sustainable farming practices, and food security at risk.
The banana appeal to Canadians
Locally, our grocery stores, shopping carts, and breakfast bowls are teaming with the bright yellow fruit as Canadians consume on average over 15 kilos of bananas per year.
While it remains one of the cheapest and most competitive products in the fresh produce aisle, the cheap banana tide is finally turning. Within this past year alone, large retailers across the country have committed to offering Fairtrade Organic bananas, bringing transparency and awareness to Canadian consumers to the urgency of choosing products stemming from more sustainable production.
So how do we go further? How can Canada go from being a laggard to a leader in the fight for sustainable banana supply chains? Join us for a candid conversation exploring these issues with leaders in this space. Our diverse panelists span each touchpoint of the banana supply chain, offering us insight into the unique challenges they face.
Edwin Melo Proaño
President, Association of Small Banana Producers El Guabo
Edwin Melo Proaño is also Vice President of the Ecuadorian Banana Network within CLAC, President of El Guabo Promesa Corporation, President of the Ecuadorian Coordinator of Fair Trade (CECJ), Treasurer of the Agrofair Producers Cooperative, Coordinator of the Cluster for Small Banana Producer from Ecuador, and member of the Surveillance Committee of the CLAC.
Director of Corporate Sustainability, Sobeys Inc.
Eli Browne is a passionate sustainability professional with 14+ years’ experience bringing sustainability initiatives to life in complex corporate settings. At Sobeys Inc., Eli Browne leads a national team responsible for developing and managing sustainability strategy, reporting and key initiatives. Eli was recently recognized by Canadian Grocer Magazine as one of their 2021 Generation Next Award Winners.
Silvia Campos Malpartida
Senior Advisor for Bananas, Fairtrade International
Following studies in Peru, Chile, and Germany, Peruvian-born Silvia Campos Malpartida has built her professional life in the agribusiness and sustainability sector. For the last 13 years, she has been responsible for bananas at Fairtrade International, working closely with Fairtrade System members, producers, and commercial partners.
Owner and President, Equifruit
Jennie Coleman combines a lengthy career in business with longstanding social justice roots, set during two years’ volunteer work in Namibia in the mid-90s. Equifruit was recognized at the 2020 Canadian Fairtrade Awards with the prize for “Excellence in Producer Partnerships”, and “The Packer” named Jennie Coleman one of their 2021 “Women in Produce”. She was also recently recognized by CPMA & Grocery Business Magazine as an Outstanding Woman in Produce.