For over 40 years we have been involved in fair trade. However, we announced recently that we are no longer labelling our products ‘fair’.
This is because ‘fair’ suggests satisfactory conditions, whereas the actual situation is often different. With our trade, we want to have more of an impact in the countries of origin. Hence, we will drive forward our commitment to social and ecological sustainability in a more focussed way.
Creating a positive impact in the countries of origin through trade is not easy. Let’s take the issue of price, for example: If we were to pay farming families double, we would no longer be able to sell our products to the wholesale market. This is because for wholesale, in addition to certificates, the price is the only thing that counts. And even if our loyal mail-order customers were still willing to buy the more expensive cashew nuts, the sales volume would shrink to a tenth of its current size. Consequently we would only buy from a handful of farming families, rather than from the approximately 2700 of today. We would also have to close our factory with the loss of 580 jobs. Though things would be better for a smaller number of farming families, the workforce, on the other hand, would be unemployed. So what should we do?
Individual elements such as higher prices for farming families, for example, are not sufficient to have any kind of sustainable impact. Farming families, the local economy and the environment must be given equal consideration – this is the basis of our sustainable approach. We do this through ...
In our opinion, the most important component for greater impact is long-term collaboration. Cooperatives, companies and sustainable farming are not achieved overnight and take decades rather than years. We stick with our partner companies through thick and thin, with investment where necessary. In twenty years, we have never given up on a partner. This perseverance in very difficult countries and regions comes at a price: To date, we have had to write down more than 1.2 million CHF on investments. But that's something we take in our stride.
In order to make the supply chain fairer for all those involved, we are changing the rules of trade by ...
In fair trade we are often led to believe in a heaven on earth and consumers love to believe it: farmers who earn a fair livelihood on a small number of hectares, wages like those in Europe, gender equality, working trade unions. The reality looks very different and improvements cannot be brought about from one day to the next, but have to occur gradually. But occur they must! We measure this in sustainability figures that we communicate. Above all we are committed to projecting a realistic picture of what we do and telling the true stories behind our products. This is because we rely on the fact that you trust us. In turn, you are also relying on us telling you the truth.
Adrian Wiedmer, Managing Director
By paying 10% of the sales price to farming families, we are turning the way we calculate prices on its head.
Why? So that it is fairer. Here is an example: If we paid 10% more to farming families for their raw nuts, this would correspond to a price of approximately CHF 0.35 per kilo. However, if they receive 10% of the sales price, then this corresponds to 3.60 CHF per kilo on average. Now instead of paying the farming families supplying for mail order double, we divide the premium between all the cashew farmers we work with. This generates an improvement in income for 2700 farming families and helps the development of an entire region.
How do we finance it? Specifically we share the increase with our customers: They pay slightly more for the products and we forego some of our margin. This approach is starting with mangoes and cashews in Burkina Faso: With the mangoes, there is a slight increase in price. With the cashew nuts the prices are staying the same because here the price of the raw materials is currently falling.
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Smallholders and local producers harvest and refine products of extraordinary quality worldwide. But for many of these producers there is no adequate or stable market. You can buy directly from these producers via the Access to Market Platform and help them to participate in the market. The principle behind this is crowd ordering – a new trade model whereby a number of consumers order a product together so as to achieve a minimum order quantity. We at gebana support the producers with our know-how, and organise the logistics.
Enable someone to make their first export with your order. Please note: Unexpected events often lead to delays, and you may find that the quality is not yet perfect. For this reason, your feedback is absolutely essential. The export experience and your feedback are important steps for the producers towards accessing the market. As a customer, you are witness to the whole process, playing your part in pioneering work.
You can order from these producers simply and directly. You receive your product as soon as the minimum order quantity has been reached and the products are ready. The risk for you is minimal, since the producers already have a product that is ready for market. This sales channel is beneficial to both the producers and the consumers, since it cuts out the middle man.
Be part of the development of supply chains and support innovation! Some of the ways you can do this include testing new products, giving feedback, or financially supporting the producers in their next steps. In doing so, you will be able to see for yourself how the products and supply chains develop.
This is where you can see all the completed projects on the Access to Market Platform at a glance. You can find out where products are now available from or whether the producers are still seeking a trade partner.