source: Equal Exchange
2022 was a difficult year to peer into last January when we were doing banana price increases for the 2022 budget and planning around avocado supply volatility. Then the war in Ukraine hit and things seemed more unstable than ever from both a geopolitical and a human perspective. Our organization changed a lot again this year as we did the prior 2 years through the pandemic and remote work environments. Producer, Distributor and Store partners changed too. I am grateful for the things that felt familiar and constant in the face of all the changes:
- Attending trade shows like OPS in CA and NYPS in NYC with my co-workers and introducing them to long term industry friends and allies face to face. This is a fair trade people chain that we are building together and it was nice to see it.
- Combining sales trips and staff training with trips to customers and seeing all the progress everyone has made from new store locations to warehouse and ripening room expansions. you are all amazing!
-Feeling the support for organic fair trade in the midst of cost increases. We sold slightly more YOY than 2021 due to price increases but we also held strong on volume YOY. Our mission is to navigate the market to move weight for small producers...mission accomplished!
Most of all I am grateful for all the people this work puts me in contact with on a daily basis. From our dedicated fresh produce staff who inspire me everyday with their dedication to this work through unbelievable change and pressure. To distributors who invested pandemic profits into their operations and continued to make space for small producer ethical purchasing programs despite market pressure. To our vendors without whom we could not function. To store retailers who surmounted the odds of cost increases, labor shortages and general fatigue to continue to be in the public square for all our strengths and weaknesses as humans. And to all the customers that continue to support Equal Exchange as a worker owned coop promoting fairness in our food system.
Thank you all for being part of a people chain as well as a food system. When I get tired or disheartened there has always been an unexpected kind word or vote of confidence in a conversation sometimes when I least expected it and most needed it. I am grateful that we have become more vulnerable and real with each other through all the changes of these past few years. you are all my heroes in this work and in this life!