Why is Fairtrade so important to Pukka

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Fairtrade has a very special place in our hearts, and its principles have meant a lot to us ever since the first seeds of Pukka were sown. We work with certified Fairtrade projects in India, China, Vietnam, South Africa, Uganda and Egypt. In 2014 we won Silver in the Fairtrade Business Awards.

Why is Fairtrade certification important?

Fairtrade certification is the best independent guarantee of a better deal to farmers in the developing world. It means that the people who grow the incredible herbs we use in our 10 Fairtrade certified teas, will personally receive a better price for their goods, decent working conditions, local sustainability, investment in their communities, and fairer terms of trade than they might otherwise receive on the open market.

In everyday terms, Fairtrade can completely transform the life of a farmer in a poor country: it can be the difference between warm clothes for his family or going cold; education for his children or staying at home; vital medical services in his village or travelling for miles for simple health care.

Many of us here at Pukka, have seen first-hand the difference fair trading can make to lives. For example, in northern Vietnam (where we get some of our Fairtrade certified green tea, ginger and cinnamon from), there is now a small kindergarten school where once there was none.

Pukka, fair inside and out

Living fairly is also a big part of our internal culture at Pukka; not just in the Fairtrade certified drinks and snacks that keep us going at Pukka HQ every day, but in the ethos we share and how we work together. Although we might not always agree (we are human after all!), we try to treat each other fairly and with respect for our individual opinions.

Then there’s our support for Fairtrade Fortnight with staff raffles and lunches (complete with our home-cooked Fairtrade recipes). Plus, our fair-trading induction programme, which introduces new members of the Pukka team to fair trading and its importance to us.

How we become Fairtrade certified

For a business like ours to obtain Fairtrade certification, we work closely with partners around the world who are regularly inspected by Fairtrade International (FLO). This ensures the farmers and collectors who FLO represents are not only paid fairly, but also cared-for correctly.

Of course, fair has to work both ways; we have quality standards of our own for the herbs we buy and our partners have to meet these high standards, as well as show continual improvements and take responsibility for what they can change. As in any healthily balanced relationship, ‘fair’ is a two-way street.

Where we can’t get certification (for example, when the herbs come from an already developed country, such as one in Europe, and cannot be certified), we always try to work together with our partners to solve problems and create solutions for fairer business.

How we make sure growers get extra

There are two types of payment we give to farmers who commit to a fair relationship with us. Firstly, there’s a ‘minimum price’ – a guaranteed minimum amount for the farmer’s goods that protects the farmer from volatile fluctuations in the market.

Secondly, there’s ‘the premium’ – an additional sum of money that’s paid into a communal fund to be used on improving the local infrastructure of the farmer’s village and supporting community projects, such as building schools, new roads, and medical facilities.

Pukka’s fair trading future

With the power to make such a positive impact, Fairtrade – and its ethical cousin, FairWild – is always top of our mind when we’re developing new products.

With every new blend, we consider including ingredients that are certified ‘fair’ so that we can bring farmers, collectors, and their communities life-changing Pukka benefits.

Trading fairly is a benevolent system where everyone is committed to everyone winning. It defines a way to do business differently; and it defines how Pukka does business now – and how we’ll continue to work for the good of everyone in the future.

Many thanks to Jon Craig photography for the photo.

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Meet the author

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Sebastian Pole, Co-founder and Herbal Director

I’m Co-founder and Herbal Director at Pukka Herbs. As well as formulating all our organic products, I run my own herbal practice in Bath which I’ve done since 1998. I’m a registered member of the Ayurvedic Practitioners Association, Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine and the Unified Register of Herbal Practitioners. All this with the aim of using the principles of Ayurveda (the ancient art of living wisely) to help create positive change and positive health. Inspired by my time in India, I love cooking a vegetarian feast and rely on regular yoga practice and herbal supplementation to keep me well. I am passionate about running a business that inspires positive change and brings the benefit of the incredible power of plants to everyone we connect with. I live on a two acre garden-farm in Somerset where I grow a rainbow spectrum of medicinal and nourishing plants for my bees and family to live from. 

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