Demonstrating fairness in supply chains
Conscious consumerism is on the rise, and as our latest research shows, younger consumers, in particular, are asking questions about the environment and social impact of the products they buy.
Focusing significantly on the environment, animal welfare and food integrity, organic standards and certification remain a great way to offer independent assurance of best practices in these important areas. Although organic farming grants many direct benefits to the people involved, organic standards admittedly lack a specific focus on fairness or social justice. So, we've been asking the question:
"How can we support organic businesses who want to show their ‘fair’ credentials?"
To answer this, we recently held our first 'Fair for Life' briefing for organic businesses.
Not too long ago, we partnered with Ecocert - the owner of the Fair for Life scheme - and we'll soon be able to deliver inspection services for UK businesses. Because of this partnership, we were keen to have Ecocert join us to explain how the scheme works.
What's the Fair for Life Scheme all about?
Fair for Life was created in 2006 to answer a specific request from the organic sector, as Ecocert’s Head of Fair Trade, Laurent Lefebvre, explains: “Fair for Life exists to support sincere and committed actors who work closely with their trade partners and producers.” According to Laurent, the sector wanted a concept that went beyond fair price, having noticed a future need for value chains that behaved “responsibly and sincerely, and with long-term vision."
Laurent Lefebvre - Head of Fair Trade at Ecocert
Uniquely, the Fair for Life scheme proposes a supply chain business model which builds resilience at each link in the chain. The idea is to both add value to and protect exemplary supply chains, where actors have chosen to act responsibly and have implemented social, economical and environmental 'good' practices.
Even in developed countries, labour laws may only offer limited protection to farm workers and marginalised communities. For businesses here in the UK, Fair for Life provides protection at any point in the chain, where people might be at a socio-economic disadvantage.
The scheme is gathering pace, growing from just over €750M to nearly €500M declared sales from 2018 to 2019 (19%). Furthermore, it’s audited and validated by respected third parties.
What do UK businesses already on-board think?
We were fortunate to be joined at the event by three UK based businesses that shared their experiences as early adopters of the scheme.
A self-confessed ‘label lady,’ Lou Green - Head of Sustainability at Neal’s Yard Remedies - spoke passionately about Fair for Life and the benefit of a scheme that integrates well with existing accreditations, while also recognising the business' existing efforts with supply partners.
Lou Green - Head of Sustainability, Neal's Yard Remedies
We heard how the scheme works to incentivise businesses to empower, support and give confidence to their supply chain actors. Whether by electric wheelchairs for elders of a Turkish farming community, or distillation equipment to help African producers add value to their raw material at source, it was fascinating to see just how tangible the benefits for producers can be.
All our contributors were keen to stress some key features of the scheme:
- Having a UK-based accreditation partner saves cost
- It's hugely important in helping interpret local, contextual issues, such as the rules on minimum wage in the UK
- It also appears that getting accredited can bring wider benefits to business in key areas - building a stronger relationship with your suppliers can not only help with ongoing continuity of supply, but can also give you access information which can make great marketing content
If you missed out on our event and would like to learn more about Fair for Life accreditation for UK businesses, please email Senior Business and Trade Development Manager, Lee Holdstock.