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Ethical Sourcing, Sustainability and Fair Trade at Viori

Having a reliable, ethical, and sustainable supply chain is something we care deeply about at Viori. It ensures that our raw materials are of the highest quality, benefit the local community, and don't degrade the environment.


 (Source: Fair Trade USA)

The Viori team carefully considers how each ingredient is grown and how each supplier operates.

Our All-Natural Rice Project, which launched in 2021, is just one example of how serious we are about establishing a sustainable supply chain. 

Through this partnership with the Red Yao farmers Viori--

  • Sources the Longsheng rice directly from the Red Yao community (at a premium)
  • Provides free resources such as workshops and farming mentors and conducts inspections to ensure quality and adherence to natural farming practices.
  • Contributes to community development projects through investments and donations.

In an ideal world, we would have these same relationships with all of our suppliers: direct and fair trade practices that ensure all stakeholders get their fair share and the environment isn't compromised in the process.

Despite Viori's ingredients being of high quality, containing zero chemicals, and therefore all-natural and completely safe to use, we aren't as close to the farmers of our remaining ingredients as we'd like.

 

 

Luckily, there are increasingly more organizations/NGOs that can help companies with such needs.

Fair Trade USA is one of them.


What is fair trade? Where did it come from?

Fair trade is an umbrella term for a global movement that promotes "trade practices in which producers in growing countries achieve sustainable and equitable trade relationships."

Some History

Long before fair trade organizations (such as the fair trade labels you see in the supermarket) came into being, fair trade initiatives were already happening.

It's believed that back in the 19th century, western religious groups who were in contact with under-served communities in developing countries were arguably among the first practitioners of fair trade values. They believed they could best serve these communities by engaging with them in direct trade and providing premium prices.

At the time, such projects were mostly in the form of charity. It wasn't until the mid-20th century that several 'Alternative Trade Organizations (ATOs) formed in Europe based on similar values: providing fair prices and bringing about improved social and environmental standards for producers.


(Source: Wikipedia)

These products were sold in designated ATO/Fair trade stores. The problem though, was these stores couldn't reach consumers on a large scale as they were too separated from conventional retail shops.

This problem was solved when the Dutch coffee trading company, Max Havelaar, introduced the first fair trade certification/label and started selling these in supermarkets around the country.

For the first time, consumers in retail stores could track how their products were produced and by whom.

Fast forward to today, and you'll find several recognized fair trade organizations such as Fairtrade International, IMO, Make Trade Fair, Eco-Social, and Fair Trade USA.

How is the fair trade industry doing?

Booming! In the last ten years, the global fair trade market is believed to have seen an 8-14% year-on-year increase in sales, with a total sales value of over 10 billion USD. And with companies and consumers demanding more insights into the sustainability of the entire supply chain, this growth is expected to keep on expanding.

Ok, that all sounds great.

Now let's talk about Viori & Fair Trade

In 2021 Viori became officially fair trade certified. At Viori, we have an internal policy: "Any raw material we are ABLE to source Fair Trade, we source Fair Trade."

Currently, 100% of our Cacao butter and 100% of our Shea butter is sourced through the fair trade network. These products are fair trade certified.

 


How are fair trade cacao butter and Shea butter different?

Fair trade products ensure that producers (farmers) receive a fair price on their products. This is why fair trade ingredients are about 15% more expensive on average than non-fair trade alternatives.

But that's only half of the fair trade model.

In addition to the premium prices Viori pays for its raw materials, we also pay an additional "Fair Trade Service Fee." This service fee is calculated using a fixed percentage of our total fair trade certified sales. And that means the more (fair trade) products we sell, the higher the service fee gets-- and the more under-served communities benefit. With Viori seeing quite some growth this year, we're probably looking at a total service fee of over $60,000 in 2022 alone! Despite this service fee often not being known, it makes Fair Trade USA stand out from many other certification bodies.

Those are some serious numbers..where does this money go?

Fair trade is a transparent organization that posts yearly reports on how these funds are used. In a nutshell, the service fee is invested into two categories:

Community Development Funds

A large share of the $60,000 we will pay this year will end up in the communities we are sourcing from (cocoa butter and shea butter) in the form of social development projects. Very similar to our Beautiful Reason Initiatives, this money is invested in projects that help the community. Typically these projects are related to education, clean water, infrastructure, capacity building, etc.


Operational Costs

These include community outreach and networking, setting up Fair trade standards and ensuring they are followed, and management and marketing costs. We are curious to read and excited to share how our cocoa and shea butter suppliers are benefiting from these 'Community Development Funds.' Once we receive fair trade reports, we'll be sure to share these with you right away, so stay tuned!


Why aren't all our ingredients sourced fair trade?

Remember the sourcing policy mentioned before? If we could source all our ingredients Fair Trade, we definitely would! The reality, however, is that some ingredients simply aren't part of the fair trade network. Simply put, we at Viori depend on Fair Trade's own ability to establish connections with local producers and set up the trade practices they stand for.

This doesn't mean companies like Viori are fully at the mercy of organizations like Fair Trade, though. Like Viori, companies can proactively establish connections with local producers and develop relationships using similar values and practices. This obviously takes a lot of time and resources, but it can be highly rewarding.

Another way to be proactive is by helping producers enter the fair trade supply chain themselves. Viori is trying to realize this by helping the farmers of Longsheng become fair trade certified themselves!

What about Viori's non-fair trade ingredients?

As you can read on our ingredient list, we first and foremost only use all-natural ingredients for our products. However, for the ingredients we can't source fair trade, we try to find well-respected alternative certifications like our RSPO certified palm oil, for example.

Additionally, we ask all our suppliers to sign and adhere to a 'supplier code of conduct,' which encompasses fair trade values. Finally, we review and improve on all these processes yearly to ensure we're providing a win-win(-win) situation for our producers, our customers, and the whole Viori team.

(photo: Viori product / raw materials)

We hope this shines some light on Viori's commitment to supporting the fair trade movement.

Are you interested in learning more about Fair Trade or have any questions about Viori's sustainability practices? As always, feel free to reach out to us at sustainability@viori.com!


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