By: Allison Forsythe
An Ohio-founded snack company, Peaceful Fruits, and its CEO, Evan Delahanty, are making big changes to not only how fruit snacks are made, but to how businesses are run. They put the fruit back into fruit snacks by having only 100 percent fruit in their snacks. Not only are these delicious fruit snacks better for your body, but they are also good for the Amazonian people, as Peaceful Fruits ethically sources all of its fruit ingredients from indigenous people in the Amazon who practice sustainable farming. The company also employs disadvantaged people in the community and includes them in the Peaceful Fruits family. I was lucky enough to get to speak with this CEO about why he started this business and what visions he has for it.
Delahanty first made it a point to detail the struggle between economic stability and cultural freedom in the Amazon:
“The Amazon people need economic opportunity that respects who they are and their way of life. Other organizations give them option to let go of their way of life by learning English and computer skills, but there are no opportunities for the people that want to stay and maintain their culture. So that’s what I wanted to start: a business to offer local Amazon fruit harvested wild off tribal lands. The local people are the ones rewarded and supported so they can stay there.”
Peaceful Fruits is one of 3,000 corporations in the world that has earned the title of Certified B Corporation, a difficult process that entails intensive review of all business procedures, supply chains and policies
Speaking to the trade-offs businesses have to make, Delahanty says that B Corps understands that “We’re bringing fruit from super far, from the Amazon, but we’re creating sustainable farming practices over there. B Corps helps us measure this and help us realize our approach.”
Peaceful Fruits is a company on the rise. They are at eight times above the production capacity from where they were a year ago. Peaceful Fruits also impacts their community by creating jobs locally, especially for those who have a hard time finding work. Empowering those in your local community is an admirable act. This hits close to home because Peaceful Fruits is our neighbor, as it was founded in Ohio.
“The more we grow, the more jobs, the more disadvantaged people in our society can work for us. More than 30 adults with disabilities are involved in the program. Some are there every day for 4 hours, but some are there once a month or week — but regardless you’re part of the team and get minimum wage: Your face is on the wall.”
Peaceful Fruits recently moved to a new office in the city of Barberton, located outside of Cleveland, to accommodate their growing business. Here, ‘new’ means turning an old Burger King into an office space.
Reusing and repurposing materials we already have is such an important part of sustainability. To put it another way, Delahanty explained how “Hybrids, Priuses, came out and all the green friendly people were like ‘Yes!’ Totally get one, but if you throw away a 3 year old car to replace it with a brand new Prius…not helping.” This is such a problem in the growing green community because people want to be doing the best for the environment, but sometimes the life cycle of a product is more important than going and getting the most cutting edge green technology or product there is.
Evan is incredibly proud of Peaceful Fruits because they chose to take over an abandoned Burger King. “We reconfigured this Burger King instead of it being trash. We didn’t have to demolish and recreate a new building because it had enough of what we needed that we could see the potential there.” This saved on resources and waste while managing to bring the community together. The city of Barberton was instrumental in helping to recreate this building. Peaceful Fruits helped this community by taking something that was a sight for sore eyes and turning into a flourishing business site that also employs local people.
With all of this growth, Peaceful Fruits is innovating even further. Although Delahanty couldn’t go into detail about what their newest product will be, he did give me a hint: candy. “Candy has evolved into artificial colors/flavoring added to corn syrup. They change it into different shapes, sizes, and colors —- different forms of the same thing.”
Peaceful Fruits knows it can do the same things with real fruit and no additives or added sugars, what they describe as “the ‘mother nature way’.”
The ambitious CEO didn’t just come out of school and immediately start changing the world immediately. Before Peaceful Fruits, Delahanty was an MBA student at Cornell University, a private industry employee, avid volunteer and Peace Corps participant.
It is so hard for us college students to find our passions, and when we do, we wonder how to go about acting on it. For anyone with a passion, whether it lies in sustainability or something else, Delahanty advises that “you just have to start.”
Delahanty’s accomplishments so far at Peaceful Fruits should remind us all that making a difference in the world is attainable: we just need to go out there and get started. We may not be making delicious, consciously farmed fruit snacks, but we can definitely do something.
Peaceful Fruits are available online at Amazon and in-store at Ohio Kroger stores. You can find the snacks in the ‘Local’ sections of the store. Support the Amazon and love your body by going and grabbing a pack.
Photos courtesy of Evan Delahanty and cover photo courtesy of Pixabay