As we started buying raw materials from farmers and producing oils we realized that fair trade’s real power is in the economic and social development of farms and communities. To date, our projects combined have invested over $2.5 million in fair trade premiums, benefitting more than 20,000 people directly and indirectly.
How it works: Producers of fair trade products charge their customers (Dr. Bronner’s and 3rd party buyers) a 10% premium on the cost of raw materials (such as harvested coconuts) and labor. The premium goes into a fair trade fund administered by a committee of farmers, farm workers, factory workers, agricultural field officers, and (in the minority) company management. Committees meet to assess progress on existing projects, review budgets, and select new project proposals submitted by committee members and the community.
Initially our fair trade sister companies invested a significant portion of their premiums in composting plants and other farm improvement programs, but as annual receipts grew (projects now generate over $350,000 in fair trade premiums a year) committees began to address more areas of need: medical equipment and facilities, drinking water wells, toilet facilities, mosquito nets to prevent the spread of malaria, education, improvements to staff homes, electricity hookups, bridges and other infrastructure, and environmental restoration.
Realizing the profound impact of fair trade projects, Dr. Bronner’s, in collaboration with third parties, decided to fund a range of projects beyond those paid for by the fair trade premium. In all, we’ve raised and invested over $220,000 (above the fair trade premium), offering host communities and farms even more opportunities to imagine and implement change.
Fair Prices: Pay farmers fair and stable prices that cover production costs and guarantee a profit, protecting farmers from volatile global markets.
Good Labor Practices: Safe working conditions, living wages and social benefits at our production plants, treatment with respect and opportunities for personal growth, gender equality, no forced labor, no child labor.
Training: Teach farmers organic practices, methods for composting, improving yield, and integrated pest management.
Fair Trade Fund: Pay 10% premium to fund community development projects, selected and administered by fair trade committees made up of community members and company representatives.
Environmental Sustainability: Implement crop diversity, organic agriculture (no synthetic inputs or pesticides) and other soil fertility measures (use of mulch, compost) for healthy, productive soil.