(UPDATED COVERAGE, Oct. 30) The Coalition of Immokalee Workers is promoting tomatoes harvested by workers covered by its “penny-a-pound” initiative with a new consumer label.
The coalition’s Fair Food program identifies tomatoes that originate from “ethical farms,” according to a news release from the Immokalee-Fla.-based workers group.
Employers in the penny-per-pound program pay workers harvesting Florida tomatoes a penny more for each pound of tomatoes picked.
Whole Foods and Compass Group North America plan to be the first program members to display the label in stores and dining facilities. About a dozen other retail and foodservice operators, including Subway, McDonald’s, Chipotle, and Wal-Mart, support the program, according to the release.
Participants displaying the logo commit to supporting a worker-created code of conduct to assure safe working conditions including the prevention of forced labor, child labor and sexual harassment, according to the release.
CIW officials declined to release the names of other retailers planning to display the label and program participation doesn’t necessarily mean the operators plan to use the label in their stores, said Marley Moynahan, a CIW spokeswoman.
CIW is focusing on developing point-of-sale displays in participating buyers’ stores and restaurants, she said.
The program investigates complaints and eliminates bad practices through the monitoring process the label represents, CIW staff member Cruz Salucio said in the release.
“It symbolizes the new day for workers in agriculture that we, as farmworkers and in partnership with consumers across the country, have fought so hard to make real,” he said in the release.
In 2009, the now-defunct East Coast Brokers and Packers Inc., became the first major Florida grower-shipper to sign onto the initiative with the workers’ group.
In 2010, Pacific Tomato Growers Ltd., and Lipman inked deal, followed by the Florida Tomato Exchange, effectively adding participating exchange members to the program.
Reggie Brown, executive vice president of the Florida Tomato Exchange, said there are always challenges in the industry’s relationship with the CIW but said the process has been constructive.
“It is certainly appropriate to recognize the industry’s commitment and involvement in the Fair Food Program and shows the industry’s support of the workers,” he said.
Other participating grower-shippers and their affiliates include Ag-Mart Produce Inc.; Alderman Farms; Big Red Tomato Packers; Classie Growers LLC; Del Monte Fresh Produce; DiMare Co.; Farmhouse Tomatoes Inc.; Gargiulo Inc.; Gulfstream Tomato Growers Ltd.; Harllee Packing Inc.; Lady Moon Farms; Taylor & Fulton Packing LLC; Tomatoes of Ruskin Inc.; and West Coast Tomato Inc.
Retail and foodservice companies that have signed agreements with the CIW include Aramark, Burger King Corp., Sodexo Inc., Trader Joe’s and Yum! Brands Inc., the parent company of Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Long John Silver’s and A&W.
Compass owns Bon Appetit Management Co., and operates restaurant concepts including Balance Kitchen, Chef Jet, Mondo, Grill Nation and Chickendipity.