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Information is being disseminated by a local talk show host falsely suggests that Winfresh has not been facilitating the trial shipment of bananas from Saint Lucia to the French market and that it is, in effect, undermining the initiative.
Winfresh wishes to state publicly and unequivocally that this is a gross misrepresentation of the facts and of the part being played by the Company in this initiative. For the records, Winfresh wishes to present the following facts relating to this matter.
1. The packing of the bananas in the first trial shipment was not done in conformity with the specifications of the French customer.
2. Instead of packing twenty-two (22) clusters in every box, as required by the customer, the number of clusters packed in the boxes varied between 20 to 22. This problem arose because it was reported by the local banana authorities, National Fairtrade Organization of Saint Lucia (NFTOSL) and the Banana Productivity Improvement Project (BPIP), that “22(6) bags proved an impossible task in most cases”.
3. The decision to vary the number of clusters per box was NOT taken by Winfresh but rather by the by local banana authorities. This decision was communicated simultaneously to Winfresh and the French importer, who later indicated that this was not acceptable to the customer.
4. In an effort to assist in resolving that initial packing problem, rather than cancelling the shipment, Winfresh decided to divert that first trial container of bananas, which was destined for the French market, to its ripening depot in the UK.
5. In an email note to the Project Manager of the BPIP, the CEO of Winfresh wrote, “… since the number of bags per box is mixed, we have decided to take this fruit to Stansted. It will give us an opportunity to assess the extent to which it conforms to the specifications of the customer and, if not, what needs to be done at source to conform. Rahjim will back in Saint Lucia next week and he will assist with training, etc.”.
6. All of the developments relating to this matter, including every discussion with the French importer, have been communicated in a timely manner to the NFTOSL and the BPIP, which are responsible for mobilizing farmers who are participating in the initiative.
7. Winfresh has done everything possible to facilitate the banana shipment trial destined for the French market, including efforts to obtain a reasonable price for the fruit. This is very demoralizing to witness all the false information that is being spread in some sections of the media deliberately to undermine the good work of Winfresh and its management, while offering no encouragement to the farmers to do what is right to meet customer requirements and to secure a place in the market for their bananas.
8. Winfresh takes the opportunity to call on all those responsible to desist from these reckless acts of misinforming farmers and, instead, to use their platforms to educate and encourage them to do what is good for the market and the sustainability of the banana industry in Saint Lucia. The constant undermining of the guidance and work of Winfresh is totally counterproductive and does nothing to advance the banana industry.