From oranges to fair-trade fruit juice
In the Brazilian state of São Paulo the fruit growers of Coagrosol cultivate oranges, organic mangos, guavas and limes. Each of them has around 20 hectares of land – that’s approximately 14 football fields. However, this is still peanuts in a sector dominated by industrial monoculture and gigantic processing companies. That’s why these producers came together back in 2000 to bring their fruits and fair-trade fruit juice to market.
Until recently the farmers had to rely on large external facilities to process their fruit. But since late 2019 they have stood on their own feet in this regard, having built their own factory just a few kilometres away from their office in Itápolis.
“As farmers we now produce our own orange juice and a concentrate of orange, mango and guava juice. Ready to export around the world, largely under fair trade conditions”, beams Carlos Novelli of Coagrosol. “This is a very important step forward with regard to the autonomous processing of our fruit and the strengthening of our cooperative.”
A quarter of the funds for the new factory came from the fair trade premium (info in Dutch). The cooperative also invested a lot of its own financial resources and received subsidies from the Brazilian government.
“Now we can also bring to market the by-products of our juice production”, Carlos adds. “The farmers can now earn a little extra from the dried orange peels and essential oils.”
Not to mention that the cooperative now employs about a hundred more people at the factory.
Out from under the yoke of industry
Coagrosol has a clear and realistic vision for the future: to help the farmers become less dependent on the industrial giants that call the shots in Brazil’s orange industry. This was the goal since the early days of the cooperative. In fact, for them, this was the main reason to go all-in on fair trade.
For the members and employees it has the following significance:
- Coagrosol sets up social and educational projects for the farmers and organises the exchange of knowledge between them.
- The cooperative helps the farmers to earn more. By growing mangos, guavas, limes and mandarins in addition to oranges, they ensure that their whole livelihood won’t go up in smoke should the orange crop fail.
- After an in-depth study and further heavy investments, Coagrosol opened its own processing factory in Brazil. This, too, is a way of giving back to the fruit farmers.
- Furthermore, the cooperative’s employees – who are mainly fruit pickers – work under fair-trade conditions: this means that, in addition to a good salary, they also receive protecting clothing, shoes, lunches and quality drinking water.
Football for future goals
“A former professional footballer is in charge of this project. Coagrosol provides the club with jerseys and footballs, and gives out free fruit juice to both players and spectators. Football keeps young people off the streets and off the drugs. With Jardim 2000 we show these young people that it is possible to dream”, says Antonio Sgarbi, chairman of the Coagrosol cooperative.
Coagrosol & Oxfam
- Coagrosol has been supplying Oxfam Fair Trade with all the mango juice concentrate it needs for its fruit juices and a lot of the required orange juice concentrate, too.
- The juice is consistently of the highest quality. What’s more, the oranges from their region, Sao Paulo, are nice and sweet. This allows us to make fruit juices with a consistent flavour, harvest after harvest.
- The cooperative is large enough to produce sufficiently large quantities to meet Oxfam’s demand.