Polarica Increases Involvement in Berry-Pickers' Recruitment

Polarica Increases Involvement in Berry-Pickers' Recruitment - featured image
Published: 01.07.2024

For many years now, Polarica has offered working opportunities to berry-pickers from Thailand. This was mostly done in cooperation with local Thai sub-contractors who were responsible for recruitment and basic level training in Thailand. 

This year, however, we decided to oversee the recruitment process ourselves in order to exert greater control over the value chain. In March 2024, we participated in a recruitment event with representatives from Fair Trade Finland. The event was organized to facilitate knowledge sharing between headhunters and berry pickers and to discuss the practicalities of working in Finland. 

We were also participating in a pilot program along with other companies to set up criteria for Fair Trade marked berry-picking in Finland. The criteria was published in June 2024.


Meeting with Around 360 Pickers

We visited Khon Kaen and Chajyaphum, Thailand, and met with approximately 360 berry pickers, including 20 new recruits. 

We held individual discussions with the berry-pickers, while representatives from Fair Trade Finland interviewed two pickers separately at each location. Our discussions revolved around the practical aspects of the pickers' work, covering topics such as working conditions in the forests, tools of the trade, meal arrangements, accommodation and other related matters. 

Our aim was to foster an honest dialogue with the pickers, highlighting the importance of collaboration and ongoing improvement in our operations. This was also emphasized in an external audit that was conducted in 2023 by Bureau Veritas for our operations in Finland.


Educating on Berry-Picker's Rights

During the event, we discussed the pickers' earning models and wage structures prevalent in the Nordic region. The berry-pickers provided valuable feedback to Fair Trade Finland on what they consider fair compensation for their work. 

Some of the Thai participants informed us that although berry-picking is strenuous, they find satisfaction in their work and are content with the compensation they receive in Finland. They were also wondering why media coverage concerning their work is so negative in the Nordic region.

It was both enlightening and rewarding for us to engage with these prospective berry pickers and listen to their perspectives. However, the rules and regulations with regards to berry-picking is currently unclear and it is uncertain whether we will get any pickers from Thailand to Finland and Sweden this year.

Mari Onkamo
Managing Director