Get to know Norman Palumbo

Here at Fairtrade we’re surrounded by incredible individuals who champion fair in all that they do. One of these inspiring leaders is Norman Palumbo.

Norman is the co-founder of Australian coffee brand Just Planet. In this months partner spotlight we hear from Norman about his leadership style and what Fairtrade means to him and the team at Just Planet.


Tell us the best part about your role?

What excites me about my role at Just Planet is seeing the long term changes that are being made in the farming communities we support. Fairtrade ensures that funds are given back to the community to self determine how the collective profits can be spent locally. Each farming collective has their own needs and priorities, and only they know what’s needed most. This drives us here at Just Planet to constantly evaluate where we can make more impact, not only on the people but the environment too. On a more local level, we have just moved our wholesale cafes into a storage drum system for coffee bean deliveries, doing away with packaging, and reducing the waste. Our customers locally are also starting to come in to pick up coffee beans with their own containers! Overall I would have to say working at JP is a way of life, not just a job, or a business, we live and work here and many of our customers and our amazing staff, see the change their simple cup of coffee is making around the world, we are in it together, that’s what I love.


What are Just Planet’s sustainability priorities?

We have always been interested in masking our business as sustainable as possible, with a view to constant improvement from the beginning 16 years ago. By buying only fair trade beans, we know that the beans are grown organically and none of the farm workers are exposed to chemicals in the process. The beans are often shade grown on small farms, and the fairtrade association not only encourages but educates farmers on sustainable practices. So our first priority is how we source and buy beans. Secondly how we package and transport beans, and we are constantly looking at this process as changes to packaging improves. This applies to paper cups too. We also offer a discount for people who bring their own cups and offer a free library of cups for anyone to borrow.


What are the key challenges in achieving them, and what kind of leadership do you demonstrate?

Sustainability is a way of life and I hope I demonstrate this through my own actions. My leadership style is collaborative, and I always listen to the ideas presented by staff, who are all very interested in bringing this change to improve our practices. We meet monthly and share our thoughts and ideas, and everyone contributes. This is why we are growing, our team are committed and interested in our ethos and direction, we are very lucky to have them.


Can you share a career highlight with us?

Wow, there’s been so many. We’ve had certificates and awards from our local and very supportive council over the years, and appeared on Channel 9 Postcards once, which is lovely to get the recognition. But I would have to say the times our local community got behind a cause would definitely be a highlight. There have been many, from queuing up to shave their heads to raise funds for leukemia, fundraising for local students to participate in conservation causes, collecting furniture for a newly arrived refugee family, supporting a soccer team in a developing country, and paying forward coffees for anyone who needs one.


Finally, what does Fairtrade mean for you and Just Planet? 

It means bringing change to our world, a fairer trading system and a redistribution of wealth. By supporting Fairtrade we can feel assured that the coffee beans we are buying are not at the expense of someone else, that women are paid equally and no child labour used. This is very important to us all here at Just Planet. Our work is meaningful, and that gives me an enormous amount of satisfaction at the end of the day, and I hope that fair trade eventually becomes the standard for coffee and other produce, and we see an end to worker exploitation.

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