In 2020, Co-op Partners Warehouse (CPW) created a direct partnership with Equal Exchange (EE) to become a distribution hub for EE Fair Trade Organic bananas and avocados. We are proud of this co-op-to-co-op connection— Equal Exchange is cooperatively owned, their growers are small farmer cooperatives, and CPW is part of the TCCP cooperative organization. The entire supply chain is a win-win for cooperatives!
By Co-op Partners Warehouse (CPW) Staff
Bananas are a very complex fruit to ripen outside of their natural climate. The Cavendish banana, which is found in markets across the country, typically arrives in the port green, with the ripening process stalled by controlled temperature. To obtain that perfect yellow banana we all love requires very specific temperature and humidity controls and includes a little “bump” of ethylene gas, a natural ripening element, to get the process started.
Our direct relationship with Equal Exchange also initiated our partnership with Wholesale Produce, a Twin Cities wholesaler who offered their facilities and knowhow to assist us with the ripening of the bananas. This relationship with Wholesale Produce was the perfect fit at the time, but we realized that we needed to explore other options to meet our customers’ needs. We required more control over the ripening process, and building our own banana-ripening rooms in the CPW warehouse was the logical path to accomplish this. The addition of ripening rooms will not only allow us to manage the physical ripening but also to properly condition them with controlled humidity, temperature, and ventilation. Our inventory can be managed daily with our customers in mind, ideally having green, turning and yellow bananas available at all times.
The rooms will also lend themselves to ripening and conditioning other fruits like avocados and mangos! Our ripening rooms are under construction and should be completed by April.
The project includes:
- Three rooms with the capacity to hold 16 pallets each, or 768 cases of bananas
- Air-tight construction with 6-inch insulated walls
- Three separate thermostats and three separate humidity controls
- Three roof-top compressors and an ethylene generator that emits a small mist of ethylene gas to initiate the ripening
This project will help to expand the reach of Equal Exchange Fair Trade bananas and enable CPW to position ourselves as a primary organic produce distributor for the upper Midwest.supplychainmap8x11