TWENTY YEARS OF ITI TROPICALS, INC. -- ON OUR WAY TO SUPPLY ONE BILLION POUNDS
We all know that there is more to life than work. This was already obvious when we drafted our first mission statement 20 years ago. We included that we want "to provide an enjoyable experience for those with whom we do business and ourselves". We believe we have succeeded in this, however today this is not enough.
A good friend of mine, Mr. Feike Sijbesma CEO of Royal DSM, the Dutch based €10 billion Euro Life Science and Materials Science company, said recently that we cannot call ourselves successful in a society that fails. This philosophy truly resonates with me and I now believe that we need to revise our mission statement and employee handbook to include the principals of triple bottom line: People, Planet & Profit. Of course iTi remains focused on profits, as this is the basis of a healthy business and will provide us with the ability to invest in the future needs of our customers. However, on top of this we want to contribute, together with all our business partners to our society & environment.
So what will we do now to celebrate our 20th? Rather than a party, we want to do something meaningful. We used the current economic situation and the upcoming elections as a guiding force. No matter of your political affiliation, both parties have made change a signature word and this has inspired us to implement changes as well:
Internal & local community
First of all each employee will receive a bonus in November. The bonus is based on how long he/ she has worked for iTi, thus rewarding loyalty. Second we presented each employee with twenty free lunches at our favorite local restaurant, walking distance from our office. This reinforces the idea of community and healthy life style that iTi wants to encourage. These are perhaps small steps but we believe in investing in our own people and showing our appreciation. This is critical for the future of iTi and our continued motivation to serve our customers well. Third, we expanded the health benefits we already offer to our employees. Henceforth we will also donate an annual amount to a local charity. The charity will be selected by the employees on an annual basis in March. Last of all, as mentioned previously, we are re-visiting our mission statement and employee handbook to include the principals of triple bottom line.
The countries we source from
We are currently working on the feasibility of re-opening a nursery in Ecuador. The family Borja, Ecuador is our oldest supplier with a relationship started before our foundation date of 11/1/88. For over 10 years they operated a nursery and day care center for children in their local community, ranging from newborns to 5 year olds. They provided transportation, food, schooling and medical attention at no cost for over 100 children each year. Sadly when banana prices plummeted the center had to be closed for lack of funds. Ecuador has always been our most important source of tropical fruit puree & juice concentrates and we hope that together with our business partners we can get this nursery up and running again. Several customers have voiced their desire to make an annual contribution to such a project and we hope we can build on this momentum.
We also started a cocoa fruit project together with Quicornac, Ecuador. Quicornac like Borja is one of our oldest and most trusted processors. Quicornac is now the largest passion fruit juice processor in the world. According to Mr. Bernhard Frei , General Manager of Quicornac “almost all this fruit is going to waste now as only the cocoa bean is harvested. In Brazil there is some local consumption of cocoa fruit puree for juice consumption and in the USA one juice company recently introduced a fruit juice that includes cocoa fruit”. He added that we set up a forum on www.cocoafruit.com and ask everyone with knowledge on this fruit to participate. “The idea is to share this information with everyone and to build knowledge, create excitement and create demand. The end result is that the farmers in origin will eventually benefit from this. Please feel free to post something on the web site as it is live right now. We look forward working with many of you on this project! We particularly would like to reach out to R&D Centers at large companies and Universities to share any research that has been done on cocoa fruit for health properties such as anti-oxidants”.
We have imported over 600 million pounds of tropical fruit puree & juice concentrate in the US & Canada over 20 years and our goal is to reach one billion pounds by the time we turn 25. Things have changed. Twenty years ago there was hardly any demand for these products. Now there is plenty of demand but we need to change how we meet this. We are committed and will contribute to finding sustainable ways in our business and therefore contribute improving the conditions in the countries that we source from (mainly Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Thailand, Ecuador, Brazil, , Peru, Colombia, Mexico and Costa Rica).
We would like to thank everyone of you, employees, customers , processors, service providers for your loyalty in the last 20 years and we look forward continue working together for the next 20.
Gert van Manen
President & C0-Founder of iTi Tropicals, Inc