Grecia Trip – Wycombe for Fairtrade – Afternoon Friday 13th May 2022

Mike and Sheena King attended a Welcome Meeting in the Board Room with members of CoopeVictoria Senior Management, including the Commercial Director, Juan Manuel Salazar Barrantes, Mariela Pacheco, the Communications Manager, our host Maria Angela Zamora Chavez, the Sustainability Manager, Shirley Salazar, the Coordinator from Grecia Municipality Fairtrade, Andres Gonzales, the Research and Development Director at CoopeVictoria, and Nora Suarez, the Deputy Mayor of Grecia Municipality.

Mike and Sheena King representing Wycombe For Fairtrade and High Wycombe Fairtrade Town were formally welcomed to Grecia and to CoopeVictoria by the Director and senior CoopeVictoria managers including the Commercial Director.

Maria Angela Zamora Chavez then proceeded to give a brief history of the CoopeVictoria Fairtrade organic coffee and sugar cane producer cooperative from its foundation in 1943 up to the present day. There are over 3000 small scale coffee and sugar cane producers who are members of this cooperative in 2022.

Caption: – Board Room welcome meeting for Mike and Sheena King from Wycombe Fairtrade.  Shirley ,from Grecia Fairtrade Municipality, is seated on the left.

Maria also outlined the reasons that Grecia sought a partner town in the Global North and continued to explain some of the joint collaborative work which CoopeVictoria, Grecia, and Wycombe Fairtrade had engaged in since the formal Fairtrade Town Partnership Agreement was signed in April 2020. She also gave an interesting Powerpoint presentation in Spanish outlining future development plans as well as giving Mike and Sheena an itinerary of activities, visits, and events arranged over the next 5 days. Andres Gonzales, the Research & Development Manager of CoopeVictoria, kindly provided an English translation. Prospective plans were also discussed along with the idea of producing a Grecia – High Wycombe Fairtrade Town Celebration Partnership coffee, with CoopeVictoria green beans roasted locally near High Wycombe.

New CoopeVictoria development projects included making their own brand of chocolate bars and selling them locally. They are using cocoa from another cooperative at present and have had the bars certified as Rainforest Alliance but are seeking the higher-level Fairtrade certification in the near future. There are ongoing projects to renew some of the ancient coffee roasting machinery as well as to develop a new refined sugar product called Polycane, which is attracting interest from carbonated and cola manufacturers due to its very low cholesterol levels.

Nora Suarez, the Deputy Mayor of Grecia also warmly welcomed us in Spanish and stated that the mayor and her fellow Municipal Councillors were very grateful to Mike and Sheena King for making the journey from the UK and to be with them over the International Fair Trade Day weekend.

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