Business Aspects

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Business news, practical advice, tools, resources and encouragement to help those involved in Fair Trade business succeed.

Dr. Bronner’s – Organic & Fair Trade Pioneer

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Photo: David Bronner, President, Dr. Bronner’s

Dr. Bronner’s started sourcing certified organic ingredients for its products in 2000 out of a desire to support sustainable agriculture without synthetic chemical fertilizers and pesticides. While this was a great first step towards sustainability, thecompany realized that questionable pricing, wages, and working conditions for farmers and workers producing our raw ingredients were not being addressed. Rather than support a supply chain motivated only by profit, Dr. Bronner’s wanted to create a supply chain that offered fairness and empowerment for its farmers, workers, and their communities.

In 2006, Dr. Bronner’s committed to sourcing major raw materials from certified Fair Trade and organic projects around the world that ensure fair prices, living wages and community benefits for farmers, workers and their families. Now, when customers purchase Dr. Bronner’s products, they are supporting these more just and vibrant producer communities around the world.

Dr. Bronner’s has created or partnered with various Fair Trade organic projects all over the world: in Sri Lanka for coconut oil, in Ghana for palm oil, in Palestine and Israel for olive oil, in India for mint oil, in Kenya for avocado, tea tree and coconut oils, in Ecuador for sugar cane alcohol, and in Zambia for beeswax. In fact, an estimated 10,000 people around the world benefit directly from Dr. Bronner’s various Fair Trade projects. Further, the company is supporting the development of domestic Fair Trade programs in North America as well.

To date, the Fair Trade premiums paid to Dr. Bronner’s projects have helped local communities realize various important efforts: drilling fresh-water wells, setting up composting operations that improve farmers’ soils and incomes, renovating schools, purchasing medical equipment for local health clinics, and providing mosquito nets to help prevent the spread of malaria – to name just a few.

Sourcing Fair Trade is one of the important ways in which the Bronner family’s current generation is able to realize founder Emanuel Bronner’s vision of constructive capitalism, in which “you share the profits with the workers and the Earth from which you made it!”

Once Again Nut Butter Donates Over 20,000 Pounds of Peanut Butter to Natural Disaster Victims

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During the month of April, Once Again Nut Butter donated over 21,000 pounds of peanut butter to the charity, Feed the Children.  The organization will be using the forty-four, 480-pound drums donated, to support victims in natural disasters.  They are working to send nut butter to the victims of the massive typhoon in the Philippines, as well as to victims of the mudslides in Washington State.

Due to the volume of butter, Feed the Children will be using this product in some of their other feeding programs in the United States.  While they cannot guarantee that the peanut butter will go to the victims in the Philippines, they are working hard to try and make that happen.

Once Again Nut Butter investigated many international feeding programs to try and assist victims in the Philippines disaster and found nearly all charities were looking for cash donations rather than food contributions due to customs issues.  Feed the Children, however, was delighted to receive this donation.

Feed The Children’s domestic programs provide disaster and emergency assistance to people in need. In fiscal year 2013, the organization distributed 98 million pounds of food and supplies with a total value of $215 million to over 10 million individuals in the U.S. Feed The Children is also active in education, distributing backpacks to homeless children and offering free books and supplies to educators through its Teacher Stores.

Around the world, Feed the Children provides nourishing meals every school day to more than 350,000 children. In fiscal year 2013, the organization distributed over $129 million in food, medicine, and other essentials to children in 23 countries around world. The international programs, including child sponsorships, meet the immediate needs of children while also addressing the root causes of poverty through education and livelihood development.

PACT Apparel Launches New Organic Cotton, Fair Trade Certified Line Carried in Whole Foods

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PACT brand announced this month that it is launching a line of organic cotton apparel manufactured in a Fair Trade Certified facility. The line will include 19 product styles featuring 78 different items. A preview of the line featuring custom designed women’s t-shirts for Spring retailing at 14.99 launched March 7, 2014, exclusively at select Whole Foods Markets. Joe Dickson, Senior GlobalQuality Standards Coordinator for Whole Foods Market, said “We are excited to be the exclusive launch partner of PACT’s new line which also represents the first time Whole Foods Market has sold Fair Trade Certified apparel.”

On July 1, 2014, the Fair Trade Certified line will be expanded to include its underwear, leggings, camisoles, men’s t-shirts, long johns and baby products. The expanded line will be available at retailers across the US and on PACT’s website.

From seed-to-shelf, PACT follows every step of the manufacturing process in a supply chain that is fully GOTS and Fair Trade Certified by third party auditors. All of the cotton for PACT’s Fair Trade Certified line is sourced from Chetna Organic — a cooperative of 15,000 organic cotton farmers in India who practice non-GMO organic agriculture.

The Fair Trade Certified line is produced in a certified factory in India that has led the movement for the ethical and sustainable production of garments. Factory workers are permanent employees as opposed to migrant laborers, their families are covered by factory-provided health insurance, and the children of workers receive free education through high school.

More at MENAFN post

FWP Analysis Compares Fair Trade & Ecosocial Certifications on How Committed Brands Are Distinguished

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Fair World Project (FWP) has published some analysis on how well different Fair Trade and eco-social seals distinguish committed brands (that is brands that are committed to building a just economy in all policies and practices) from conventional brands (that is brands that offer some certified products or ingredients but in other supply chains and practices show a lack of commitment to Fair Trade principles). The analysis currently compares 7 certifications across 8 questions about a brand’s practices throughout all its supply chains, company history, minimum percentage requirements for multi-ingredient products, focus on small producers, and more.

More at FWP post

Fairtrade International Launches Commodity Sourcing Program

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Fairtrade International recently announced the first commitments to its new commodity sourcing model. Rather than focusing on all the ingredients for a multi-ingredient final product, Fairtrade Sourcing Programs means companies can now make big commitments to use Fairtrade cocoa, sugar or cotton across product ranges or even their whole business. Already at launch nine companies have signed on to increase their Fairtrade purchases starting with initial 2014 volumes set to deliver $1.2m in additional Fairtrade Premium to cocoa farmers by the end of this year.

The associated label, shown at left for cocoa ingredients, looks somewhat different than the FAIRTRADE product label,  under which all commercially available ingredients in a multi-ingredient final product that could be FAIRTRADE must be FAIRTRADE. The U.S. market, administered by Fairtrade America, is not presently allowing use of the label for Fairtrade Sourcing Programs.

Mars and major German, Swiss and Japanese retailers and brands were the first to make serious commitments to cocoa farmers under Fairtrade’s new commodity sourcing model. Swiss company Switcher was also announced recently as the first to pioneer the new approach in cotton.

The early commitments alone will increase Fairtrade cocoa sales sixfold in Germany in 2014 and deliver 14% growth to Fairtrade cocoa farmers worldwide, by close to 6000 metric tonnes (MT). Many of these companies have set multi-year growth targets so Fairtrade cocoa farmers will benefit from year-on-year increases to overall volumes of cocoa sales.

More at Fairtrade International post

FWP Campaign Asks Brands Participating in Fair Trade to Support Fair Trade Policies

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Fair World Project, an advocacy program of Organic Consumers Association, is inviting Fair Trade supporters to ask Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Starbucks, and Honest Tea to support fair trade policies in government. With current developments heading towards passage of international free trade deals such as Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA), FWP believes the companies should ensure that their influence is used to demand fair and transparent trade policies that benefit farmers and workers.

More at FWP campaign

Fair for Life Announces Changes to Its Certification

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“Fair for Life” Certification announced changes to part of its certification program after a revision process ended in December 2013. The changes apply to the certification’s Labelling & Control standards, and to its Handling Operations standards.

More at Fair for Life post

Fairtrade International Makes Major Changes to Strengthen Hired Worker Standards

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Fairtrade International has overhauled its Fairtrade Standard for Hired Labor to strengthen the position of workers in Fairtrade certified plantations and estates producing tea, bananas and other fruit, cut flowers, herbs, vegetables and sports ball factories. The newly revised standard includes detailed requirements to guarantee workers’ right to freely organize and collectively bargain. Certified producer companies must not only declare this right publically to workers, but allow unions to meet with workers and offer to engage in a collective agreement process with worker representatives if there is none in place.

Fairtrade International is also introducing a new methodology to set living wage benchmarks and a clear process for plantations to progress towards a living wage. The new methodology has been developed and benchmarks have already been set in some areas. Fairtrade International is now in the process of calculating rural living wage benchmarks for each region with Fairtrade certified plantations.

More at Fairtrade International post

Certification Comparison Tool Published by FWP

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An online tool was recently published to compare some aspects of certification programs for Fair Trade and ecosocial labels in the U.S. and Canada markets. The tool, published by Fair World Project (FWP), a program of Organic Consumers Association, currently compares 6 certifications across 8 criteria. The tool presents both objective factors as well as FWP’s opinions on how well each label meets FWP’s expectations.

The tool focuses on certification policies related to multi-ingredient products, so doesn’t presently address scores of other criteria on how labels compare. The tool currently compares Fair Trade USA’s “Fair Trade Certified”, Fairtrade America’s FAIRTRADE, IMO’s “Fair for Life”, Ecocert, UTZ Certified, and Rainforest Alliance Certified, and is updated as of November 2013.

More at FWP online tool

FairWild Certification Expanding As It Reaches 5th Anniversary

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The innovative, and relatively small FairWild certification for fairly traded, wild-harvested products reached its 5th anniversary this year. This year the system saw a number of new products with FairWild-certified ingredients launched, and FairWild Standard projects underway in Morocco, China, India and beyond.

More at FairWild December newsletter