It’s very important to us that our ingredients are ethically sourced. While we are not fair trade certified, we’ve asked our relevant suppliers about their sourcing. Here are their replies:
Terrasoul: ‘Our practices are Fair Trade, but we do not own the license. Our sourcing and relationships with our farmers is very important to us, so we pay much more than what the fair trade premium is on our products, we just choose to not pay for the license. This helps keep our costs down for everyone so that we can put more money back into the farmers and their communities.
As part of our ingredient sourcing we perform extensive vetting on all of our supplier partners currently in 20 countries, many we have been conducting business with for years. We always ensure that their products and business practices conform to our high quality and ethical standards. This includes evaluating their sustainability programs and their efforts to improve the livelihood of small farmers through rural investment and access to capital. Our suppliers reinvest in these agricultural communities, and the many smallholders that grow our ingredients, by providing ongoing farmer education that increases their yields and incomes and by making infrastructure investments. We also visit with our suppliers to ensure their workers are in a safe, healthy and productive workplace and that all current good manufacturing practices are followed.’
Ultimate Superfoods: ‘Ethical Sourcing Practices – Cacao Product
Ultimate Superfoods’ mission as a superfoods company includes a commitment to promote and support Ethical Sourcing practices across all raw materials purchased. We believe the foods that give life and vitality to us as consumers, must also improve the life and vitality of the indigenous people who grow them. With respect to cacao products, we do not import from Africa in particular, where sustainability, labor, and ethical trade issues are still rampant. Instead, we offer only distinct products, each originating from Ecuador, Peru, or the Dominican Republic. In these regions, our cacao is grown and harvested by individual family farm holders, remotely located throughout the jungles. They represent and trade their crops through member-run, democratic cooperatives, which help standardize pricing, quality, farming practices and development, as well as stand as one, to ensure the community is supported, via a symbiotic relationship with the finished product production facilities. This is in stark contrast to choosing bean sources which are commercial organizations, merely employing local laborers at undisclosed terms. Through our regular travel to these sourcing regions, we are able to verify first-hand the condition and needs of the farms, individuals, and supporting communities, as well as conditions, quality systems, and business practices of our producer-partner production facilities. Our regional visits also allow us to observe the results of committed re-investment activities by our producer-partners back into the independent cacao farmer communities, and verify that producer and coop-organized trainings on agriculture, harvesting practices, and food safety requirements for example, are frequent and meaningful.
One surprising discovery in our history of talking with farmers, cooperative bodies, and producer-partner facilities alike in these regions, has been the response to adopting formalized third-party fair trade certification for all product grown and produced. Ironically, many farmers instead believe they are well served supplying their crop through non-fair trade certified cooperatives. Within the unity of the cooperative, they are able to yield, and retain financially, maximum value for their crop and communities, while gaining freedom from reporting and administrative necessities associated with fair trade certified cooperatives. Finished product production facilities, while often maintaining a formal fair trade processing certification, also prefer the simplicity and one-to-one relationship they can forge with coop farmers and communities, absent of a third-party
fair trade intermediary.
Ethical and sustainable sourcing begins with an intimate knowledge of the geography, people, and the market overall, obtained through travel to the regions we source from, but ensuring fairness is achieved based on the selection, qualification, and continued compliance of our producer-partner sources who buy the cooperative cacao raw material. Accordingly, below is a partial list of our standards in supplier selection:
1. Working only with partners who have documented ethical and sustainable sourcing policies which are integrated into their procurement practices and overall quality management system, and include annual program plans for tangible reinvestment projects and initiatives within their local communities
2. Bias toward partners who hold fair trade facility certifications – this assures that systems and training within the company meet fair trade standards, even if not all commerce is fair trade certified product
3. Signed statements from our producer-partners regarding absence of forced labor and ethical sourcing practices.
4. Choosing producer-partners who hold Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), ISO22000, or similar third party quality system audits. An added assurance that there is independent oversight, including audit sampling for traceability for all raw materials, and management accountability to follow company-documented policies, including sourcing practices
5. Selecting partners who charges us fair prices, not the lowest prices. Suppliers who price at or below the market often cut costs in other areas, and shortcutting ethical sourcing is one opportunity. We work with partners who charge for full value, including the investment in ethical sourcing, and community re-investment activities
6. Bias toward partners who hold third-party certifications social responsibility and/or sustainability certifications
The above standards are dedicated to ethical sourcing, and are in addition to our standards and activities surrounding physical product quality and food safety. Ultimate Superfoods is currently certified through Fair Trade USA to import and sell fair trade certified cacao products. At present, we inventory and sell Fair Trade USA certified cacao powder from cacao grown in the Dominican Republic.’
Mountain Rose Organics: ‘All of the products carried by Mountain Rose Herbs are certified under the Fair for Life. I would like to explain a little bit further about our Fair Trade program. Mountain Rose Herbs is certified thru IMO with two separate certifications: “For Life” and “Fair for Life”. There are scrutinizing audits and inspections conducted annually at our facilities in order to renew both of these certificates.
In brief, the “For Life” program is a social responsibility certificate which covers company activities in the following ways:
•As an employer
•Core labor rights are respected
•Good and fair working conditions
•As a community member
•Responsible relations to local community
The “Fair for Life” program is a fair trade certificate which covers how we conduct our fair trade practices, as well certifying
specific products as “Fair Trade”:
•Responsible trading practices
•Fair prices and fair trade premiums are paid to producer operations (farm level)
•Long term relationships with fair trade producer operations
•Certified products originate from fair trade producers
Again, the company-wide certificate is “For Life”, while the “Fair for Life” certificate pertains to products that are specifically certified as “Fair Trade”. While our guiding principles include operating under fair farming practices with all of our suppliers, including paying them the prices they set for their products, not all of our products are “fair trade” certified. For more information about IMO “For Life” and “Fair for Life” programs, please visit:
http://www.fairforlife.org/pmws/indexDOM.php?client_id=fairforlife&page_id=home&lang_iso639=en. We also have more
information here on our website: https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/principles/fair-trade ‘
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