FRESH START ORGANICS: ACCELERATING SUSTAINABILITY AND FAIR TRADE IN ORGANIC AGRICULTURE
Fresh Start Organics Inc (FSOI) set up in Bacolod City, Island of Negros - Philippines, is a privately owned company engaged in organic production, processing, and marketing of agricultural produce. Set up in 2005 by Jr. Ramon Uy and Francine Uy— husband and wife cum ardent organic enthusiasts, it was transformed into a corporation in the year 2013 and came to be known as Fresh Start Organics Inc.
What sets FSOI apart from the other business is that other than providing an alternative to chemically laden food, it also aims to promote fair trade principles and good environmental management practices. FSOI strongly believes that by offering stable and sustainable market for organic products, more small farmers and producers will get interested to shift and venture in organic production. It is with this intent that FSOI started its operations and within a short period of time it succeeded in establishing itself as an integrated organic business, playing the multiple roles of producer, consolidator, processor, and distributor of fresh and processed organic products. It has also established two organic and natural stores which showcases organic crops and processed product from its farms, processing facilities, and various small farmers and producers.
FSOI’s organic farm in Silay City has been established as a model organic agriculture farm where training on organic farming is also provided. In 2015, FSOI also put in place its first operational model of a fresh salad bar inside Robinsons— one of the largest supermarket chain in Philippines, which has now become a profit earning venture for the company.
Though FSOI manages and sources fresh supplies from its own farm, it still sources 70% of its product supply requirements from 42 individuals and institutional suppliers which include small farmers and producers, cooperatives, and social enterprises; thus making it a farmer-centered enterprise. By engaging the small farmers and its producers directly, FSOI is also able to shorten its supply chain and provide appropriate pricing of their produce which results to better profit margins and opportunities to sustain the business operations. It has till date engaged with more than a thousand small organic farmers in Negros Island for its raw materials and supplies. “As FSOI grows, we see its engagement with these small farmers also growing, improving, and becoming more sustainable,” shares Ramon Uy.
To take the business to the next level and accelerate its growth, FSOI found in ICCO Investments an ideal partner, because of the latter’s commitment to stimulate sustainable agriculture and promotion of small holders in its investment activities.This partnership will help FSOI professionalize its various business operations and expansion in terms of supply base, increase its volume for fresh and processed organic products and maximize its distribution to more channels and locations in the Philippines.
Both, FSOI and ICCO Investments are confident that the number of small suppliers, supplying directly and through their respective associations and business enterprise, will increase from 1,900 to 3,800 by 2020. Other than the investment support, ICCO Investments is committed to assist the company in the improvement of its management systems, especially in the area of finance and business planning.