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Reporting on show trends he says: “I think the most important thing is how the organic movement is just part of a world movement, you might say a revival of food culture, a reaction against industrialised food processing. Organics is just one of the parts, Fairtrade is another and local food movements, the slow food movement, they’re all part of the same sort of cultural trend. “Of particular interest is the Fairtrade movement and the organic movement coming together, so there was quite a lot of debate and seminars about the differences between the two and the culture that exists between them. ”
When Josephson refers to Fairtrade he uses the word as a noun, as in, the practice of trading fairly. Like Demeyere, he also travels the world checking that the farms Ceres products are sourced from are organic and sustainable. “We want a connection with the farmers,” he says. “It’s not driven by money, we’re not after the lowest price, we haven’t got profit as our central objective, it’s to find really good food around the world.
“Although New Zealand is a food country, we have a very limited range of product. About 65 to 70% of our soil is only suited to pastoral farming, and about 70,000 hectares is suitable for horticulture. There is no way we can be self-sufficient in food, we don’t have the land or the climate.”
The reality is, as New Zealanders become increasingly internationalised, they want a wider range of food to sample. Ceres is continually on the hunt for “the farmers that are into food, we want to build something that is real, not be removed from it.”
Rather than use Fairtrade exclusively, the company has decided to affiliate itself with an organisation called EcoSocial, which Josephson describes as “decentralised and transparent”.
“It’s of a character that fits with us – you can see the money flow and the decisions aren’t made in Germany but locally.”
Only a few years old, EcoSocial is also one of the newer socially responsible certifications available. Monette Tiu, Ceres marketing manager, cites pumpkin seeds sourced from Inner Mongolia, China as an example: “The EcoSocial premium paid by Ceres goes directly to the growers, in this case the Do It EcoSocial project in China. The beneficiaries of this project are 52 small farmers.”
The Ceres vision states: “We believe in promoting sustainability of the earth and the people on it.” After 26 years the world seems finally to be catching up with this vision.
Water – not organic
Aquaceuticals is a New Zealand company that has strived to “do good” since day one, ensuring the product fits with the team’s principles. As of six months ago, however, BioGro certification is no longer available for water as a product. Instead, the company can only state: “Bottled at a BioGro certified plant” – the Whakatane plant owned by parent company Living Waters.
Glen Curd, director says: “It’s a case of trying to prove it. If you’ve got an organic celery farm, you can say there have been no sprays put on it, etc. There is not really a test that can be applied to water as such; they just feel it’s a naturally occurring substance. There isn’t someone monitoring where 1800-year-old water came from.”
The company’s most ingenious product in the sustainability arena, Water in a Box, was first mentioned in the November issue of FMCG and launched just before Christmas 2009. Since then Curd reports it’s “been going great guns”.
“Water in a Box has been created to provide high quality water in one of the most environmentally friendly packaging systems available today. There is over 80% less plastic when compared to the equivalent water volume in plastic bottles. Now that’s got to be better for the environment,” he says.
Concerned about the impact of plastic bottles thrown overboard on boats and discarded on beaches, Aquaceuticals has teamed up with Ocean300 to clear New Zealand’s beaches of plastic.
Recently water was supplied to thirsty volunteers who cleared 270 kilometres of beach of 12.5 tonnes of waste.
Curd says: “That’s a problem. If plastic is recycled it’s not [a problem]. If people put it in a bin so it is recycled and used again and again, it’s a reasonably renewable resource. Unfortunately a lot of people don’t do that.”
So to combat this, the team at Aquaceuticals has targeted the boating industry with its 10-litre Water in a Box, painted up a little car to look like the product and visited beaches from Whakatane to Whitianga and in between.
It’s not just the environment they’re targeting. Like Ceres and All Good, Aquaceuticals has a vested interest in providing fresh water to less fortunate communities and it’s not just a plug for corporate social responsibility. Every time someone drinks from Water in a Box someone in a third world country gets to drink fresh clean drinking water through an affiliation with an organisation called B1G1 (buy one, give one).
Curd says: “This organisation ensures that all the money you make goes to the community. If you give $100, $100 is what they’ll get. There is no administration fee. In this case a group called WellWishers goes in, finds water, drills and put a bore down. When they’ve finished, they start again somewhere else and keep a record of how many people are specifically getting funding.”
The Polish poet Stanislaw Lec asked: “Is it progress if a cannibal uses a fork?” Author John Elkington used this phrase effectively in his book Cannibals with Forks – The Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business.
The three prongs represented economic prosperity, environmental quality and social justice. By this decade, corporate social responsibility has become widely accepted and Elkington’s cannibals (businesses) are onto the next phase.
Welcome to the age of the cannibal, who has traded a fork for a set of bamboo chopsticks monikored ‘eco-social’. Once a company has its environmental and social obligations sorted, customers will open their purses and economic prosperity will follow. So is it progress if a cannibal uses chopsticks? Definitely.
AGROFAIR is a fresh fruit company co-owned by farmers in Africa and Latin America. It introduced the first Fairtrade banana in the world in 1996 and now handles Fairtrade certified, sustainably produced bananas, pineapples, citrus and mangoes. Some fruit is also organic certified.
FAIRTRADE is a third party certification system providing farmers and producers in developing countries with a designated fair price (the Fairtrade Price) for their produce. It also provides these farmers and producers with an additional sum of money (the Fairtrade Premium) for investment in social, economic and environmental development.
BIOGRO is New Zealand’s leading organic certification agency. It certifies over 900 operations across New Zealand’s primary production, processing, farm input supply, export, and retail sectors. BioGro trademarks more than $100 million worth of product every year.
ECO SOCIAL is the fair trade certification of IBD Certifications – an organic and Demeter certifier based in Brazil. IBD was born from the biodynamic sector, and then expanded into an organic/biodynamic certification body, adding additional certifications later on.
BUY1GIVE1 is an international organisation founded in Australia and now headquartered in Singapore. ‘The home of transaction-based giving’, every time someone buys something from a business that is part of Buy1Give1, there is a specific contribution automatically made to a cause selected by the business.