Conacado Cocoa Pods growing in Dominican Republic.

Fair's Fair

20th November 2009

We’re used to associating the Fairtrade Mark mainly with food or drink… but, explains Mary Linehan, it’s highly relevant to the beauty industry too…

Boots, Bubble & Balm, Essential Care, Lush and Neals Yard are the five companies who, in summer 2009, made eco-history as the first beauty brands to achieve the Fairtrade Foundation Mark for their products and ranges.
To carry the Fairtrade Mark, each product should contain at least one ingredient that benefits disadvantaged producers. Volumes for Fairtrade ingredients are set at ‘wet weight’ formulation levels, and on a whole product basis: a minimum of two per cent for ‘wash off’ products, such as shampoos and soaps, and a minimum of five per cent for ‘leave on’ products, such as moisturisers.

Although they seem low, these thresholds can be easily applied to ingredients and their derivatives in the best-selling volume lines, thereby opening up the potential market for Fairtrade labelling to infinitely more products.

Importantly, producers and their communities derive much benefit from the Mark. According to the Fairtrade Foundation, ‘Fairtrade’ doesn’t just mean paying a fair price for goods, but is a way of doing business that both helps people in the world’s most marginalised communities to escape poverty and promotes sustainability. At the heart of the Fairtrade system are the farmers and the workers who are members of Fairtrade certified producer organisations.

One of the more successful suppliers to the beauty industry is Conacado, a farm co-operative in the Dominican Republic that supplies high quality cocoa beans and cocoa butter to Boots, Lush and Bubble & Balm amongst others. Set up in 1988, it now helps support about 25% of the Dominican small-scale cocoa farmers. The cocoa industry generates rural employment, and 40,000 Dominican households depend directly on cocoa. Conacado was first Fairtrade certified in 1995 and is guaranteed a minimum price equal to, or just above, market level and an additional Fairtrade premium. It now sells almost 50% of its production to the Fairtrade market.

Thanks to Fairtrade funding, Conacado has been able to contribute to a wide range of local projects: clean water programmes, investment in the rural infrastructure (such as new roads and bridges, for example), investments in scholarships and schools, women’s initiatives, housing for low-income farmers and access to loans and credit.

In Europe alone, approximately 5 billion cosmetics products are produced annually, using up approximately 1.5 million tonnes of ingredients. Harriet Lamb, Executive Director of the Fairtrade Foundation, says, “It’s great news that the farmers who grow the ingredient will get a fairer deal. This brings much needed positive change for producers who need Fairtrade now more than ever.”

Conacado Well Project, Dominican Republic.

One of the more successful suppliers to the beauty industry is Conacado, a farm co-operative in the Dominican Republic that supplies high quality cocoa beans and cocoa butter to Boots, Lush and Bubble & Balm amongst others. Set up in 1988, it now helps support about 25% of the Dominican small-scale cocoa farmers. The cocoa industry generates rural employment, and 40,000 Dominican households depend directly on cocoa. Conacado was first Fairtrade certified in 1995 and is guaranteed a minimum price equal to, or just above, market level and an additional Fairtrade premium. It now sells almost 50% of its production to the Fairtrade market.

Thanks to Fairtrade funding, Conacado has been able to contribute to a wide range of local projects: clean water programmes, investment in the rural infrastructure (such as new roads and bridges, for example), investments in scholarships and schools, women’s initiatives, housing for low-income farmers and access to loans and credit.

In Europe alone, approximately 5 billion cosmetics products are produced annually, using up approximately 1.5 million tonnes of ingredients. Harriet Lamb, Executive Director of the Fairtrade Foundation, says, “It’s great news that the farmers who grow the ingredient will get a fairer deal. This brings much needed positive change for producers who need Fairtrade now more than ever.”

The Fairtraders …

At present, Fairtrade beauty products are available as follows:

Boots: the Extracts range comprises 35 fragrant and luxurious body washes, bath creams, body butters, body scrubs and lip balms in Mango, Cocoa Butter, Almond, Brazil Nut, Coconut and Bergamot variants. [From £2.50 for a 50ml body butter to £18 for a natty washbag gift.]

Bubble & Balm: its entire range of 18 bath and body treats as well as gift sets is certified Fairtrade. [Prices range from £7.95 for Stubble & Balm Shaving Oil to £14.95 for Pure Shea, which contains over 99% Fairtrade certified shea butter.]

Essential Care: 2-in-1 Purifying Mint Mask [£20]. A gentle deep cleanser/exfoliator that contains purifying fine green clay, sea kelp, herbs and organic Fairtrade sugar cane from farmers in Iturbe, Paraguay.

Lush: Fairtrade Foot Lotion [£7.59]. A cooling, refreshing treat for feet that contains softening Fairtrade cocoa butter, plus spearmint and peppermint essential oils.

Neals Yard Remedies: Sensual Jasmine Shower Gel [£12.60] and rich moisturising Body Cream [£25.10] include three certified Fairtrade ingredients across the range: honey from Mexico, Brazil Nut oil and Rooibos leaf extract.

And check out the Visionary Soap Company which sources Fairtrade ingredients from places as far flung as Nepal, Palestine, Madagascar and Africa, and works hard to incorporate much higher levels of Fairtrade ingredients: their soaps, for example, contain an average 27% Fairtrade product.

These are just the first; there’ll be many more to come.

Stockists:
Boots: stores nationwide;
Bubble & Balm: www.bubbleandbalm.co.uk;
Lush: stores nationwide or on-line at www.lush.com;
Essential Care: www.essentialcare.com;
Neals Yard: www.nealsyard.com;
Visionary Soap: www.visionarysoap.co.uk

Find Your Local