How Well Do You Understand Fair Trade?
October is Fair Trade month, so we figured it was the perfect time to talk about it as it's something very close to our hearts here at Sambazon.
We established the first Fair Trade Certification for Açaí in 2008 with Ecocert and are fervent believers in the power of good it brings. In fact, it’s allowed us to raise the standard of living for tens of thousands of Açaí family farmers. However, people often ask us:
What exactly does Fair Trade mean? What practices does a company need to follow for their product to be Fair Trade Certified? And how does your support of these products impact the local communities who produce them?
All great questions, and ones we are going to break down for you here. After all, the more we all understand about the positive impact of practices such as fair trade, the more we will all support them.
Fair Trade in a Nutshell (or Açaí seed!)
Fair Trade is a global movement made up of a diverse network of producers, companies, shoppers, advocates, and organizations putting people and planet first. “Based on the simple idea that the products we buy and sell are connected to the livelihoods of others, fair trade is a way to make a conscious choice for a better world".
Fair Trade is Founded on the Following Principles
Respect of human rights and fair working conditions
Respect of the ecosystem and promotion of biodiversity, sustainable agriculture practices
Respect and betterment of local impact
In order for a product to become Fair Trade Certified, a company must follow rigorous standards regarding each of the above. A company claiming they are followingFair Trade practices but are not certified leaves you, the consumer, the job of figuring out what “Fair Trade practices” mean to them. The transparency of Fair Trade Certification allows you to see what exactly a company is doing and that those practices are validated during 3rd party independent audits.
Sambazon and Fair Trade
Sambazon Fair Trade certification is now “Fair for Life” by the certifier EcoCert. This certification requires annual physical audits and ongoing monitoring of all Sambazon practices (Harvesting, Manufacturing, Distribution). We own and pay for this certification. We also own and pay for the organic certification of this same area. Our harvesters are not obligated to sell their products to Sambazon - they are welcome to sell their Açaí to anyone they choose.
The human areas covered include paying the harvesters a fair price for their Açaí (10X over base price), paying our factory worker a fair wage (minimum wage needed to live in the area), ensuring no child/slave labor occurs, no harassment, no discrimination (gender, race, political, age, marital, disability), offering leave time (vacation, sick, maternity), no violations of human dignity or human rights violations, access to toilet facilities, clean drinking water, healthy food (if provided), and some social security measures.
Ecosystem and Biodiversity
Environmental aspects include mitigating environmental impact at forest and factory level. We monitor energy use, waste water or other potential contamination of the environment, preserve the forest and biodiversity with researched impact, ensure no harvesting of animals/plants that are protected and no harvesting of animals for the pet trade, AND our packaging material is chosen with the most sustainable options available.
Betterment of Local Impact
In addition, a percentage of the price for fruit is put aside each year and the local harvest communities petition for projects that will help the entire community. Sambazon has given back more than $800,000.00 USD to date. With this funding we have built schools, nursing centers, athletic centers, cafeterias and day care centers. These projects must be decided upon by a collective of the whole community and should be sustainable and not reliant on Sambazon for the long term. All our projects are for community self-sufficiency. We are not trying to make any one dependent on Sambazon. We are helping improve the lives of everyone in our harvesting community, not just those directly harvesting Açaí.
So there you have it. A brief overview of Fair Trade Certification and why it really is so important. If you’d like to know more, check out Why We Exist to see some of the ways you’ve helped us give back to the Amazon and its local communities by supporting our Fair Trade Certified Açaí.