NatureSweet, the number one snacking tomato brand and leading greenhouse-grown produce company, is committed to grow 100 percent 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 throughout 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 percent 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 percent 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,” said 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.”
“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 percent 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 NatureSweet.