With a busy week behind you and the weekend within reach, there’s no shame in taking things a bit easy on Friday afternoon. With this in mind, every Friday TriplePundit will give you a fun, easy read on a topic you care about. So, take a break from those endless email threads, and spend five minutes catching up on the latest trends in sustainability and business.
In response to growing consumer demand, food companies around the world are becoming more transparent about their ingredients and supply chains. There's surely no shortage of food labels and third-party certifications for them to tap along the way. Since October is Fair Trade Month, this week we tip our hats to major food and grocery companies making a shift to ethical sourcing. Did your favorite brand make the list?
In 2014, the U.K. grocer released an encouraging progress update on its 2020 Plan A goals: Over 60 percent of the products sold in M&S stores had some type of sustainability attribute. This includes fair trade, organic, free-range, cruelty-free, low alcohol, responsible supply chain, recycled, or made in a factory where workers and the environment are respected, according to the company.
On the fair trade front, the company is leading even more: M&S was the first major retailer to switch all of its tea and coffee to fair trade back in 2006. It also sells fair trade wine, chocolate and flowers.
In partnership with Quality Assurance International (QAI) and Hesco, Kashi's Certified Transitional label seeks to bridge the gap. In July, Kashi released its first product containing Certified Transitional ingredients — a sweet breakfast cereal fittingly called Dark Cocoa Karma Shredded Wheat Biscuits.
The whole wheat cereal is also one of the company's first products to contain cocoa certified by Fair Trade USA. Kashi first began selling Fair Trade Certified products last year, and now a variety of its cereals and snack bars bear the label.
Some were wary when Coca-Cola purchased the company in 2011, but Honest Tea remains an independent operating unit within the beverage behemoth. Thanks to higher distribution, the company grew by an enviable 30 percent between 2011 and 2015. It was able to purchase more organic products — 6.7 million pounds in 2014 — and ramp up its commitment to fair trade. Fair trade premiums paid by Honest Tea now total over $200,000 annually.
In partnership with Fair Trade International, the company ensured "every possible ingredient" was Fair Trade Certified by 2011 in Europe. It did the same in the U.S. in 2014. Last year, Ben & Jerry's paid almost $2 million in social premiums to farmers producing its five fair trade ingredients: sugar, cocoa, vanilla, coffee and bananas.
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters began to source fair trade coffee in 2000, six years before it purchased a 65 percent stake in Keurig for a reported $104.3 million. In 2010, it was named the world's largest purchaser of fair trade coffee, and the company continues to work with Fair Trade USA on ethical coffee pilots around the world.
All of its practices are audited by third parties. And by 2014, 96 percent of Starbucks coffee passed the C.A.F.E. and fair trade muster. Last year, the company sourced 100 percent of its coffee ethically.
As 3p's Jen Boynton noted last year, Thrive's first major partner -- Chick-fil-A -- came as a bit of a surprise to those familiar with the firm’s stance on gay marriage. But a year later and the partnership is still going strong. Chick-fil-A touts its Thrive brews as 'coffee with a story,' and the collaboration allowed Thrive to significantly expand its reach -- meaning more work and more wages for coffee farmers in Latin America.
Image credit: Honest Tea
Mary Mazzoni, Senior Editor, has written for TriplePundit since 2013. She is also Managing Editor of CR Magazine and the Editor of 3p’s Sponsored Series. Mazzoni’s recent work can be found in Conscious Company, AlterNet and VICE’s Motherboard. She is based in Philadelphia.