San Miguel de Brasil Co-op
After extensive research into the various bananas available in the Bay Area, we at Good Eggs are excited to begin working with Watsonville Coast Produce to carry Certified Organic and Certified Fairtrade bananas grown by the San Miguel de Brasil Cooperative in Ecuador.
San Miguel de Brasil is a cooperative organization of small banana growers in El Oro, a region on the Southwestern Coast of Ecuador. It was formed in 2001 with the goal of improving the quality of life and working conditions of its member farmers, their workers, and their families. The growers of San Miguel de Brasil work cooperatively to pack, market and ship their bananas directly to international buyers, which allows them to receive a higher price for their fruit and have more control over the process than going through one of the larger banana labels. By working within the Fairtrade system, the Cooperative has been able to utilize the associated premium to launch a number of projects for its member farmers, including technical, administrative and financial trainings, educational aid for workers' families, and free medical services and medicines for producers, workers and administrative personnel.
From 14 founding partner growers in 2001, the organization has grown to include 134 members. Most of the members own their own land and grow bananas on 2 to 12 hectares (5 to 30 acres), as opposed to the large plantation-style growing operations in Mexico and parts of Central and South America that can reach several thousand hectares in size. While this cooperative system of small farmers presents additional challenges in supply chain logistics and efficiency, we feel strongly that supporting such a group of small growers is the best way to ensure an improved quality of life and respect for the environment in banana growing regions.The San Miguel de Brasil Cooperative's bananas carry the "Sanmibra" label (San Miguel de Brasil) and are imported, ripened and distributed by Watsonville Coast Produce in Watsonville, CA. Gary Manfre bought Watsonville Coast Produce, Inc. 41 years ago and since then, has been partnering with farmers to provide their customers with the freshest produce available. To ensure that they deliver produce in an ecologically responsible way, they run their trucks on biofuel, power their entire facility with solar energy and recycle everything that can be recycled.