When we think of Fairtrade, bananas, chocolate and coffee spring to mind. But did you know you can also buy a whole range of products that are certified through the Fairtrade Foundation, giving farmers and producers a fair price (The Fairtrade Minimum Price) and extra money for their business, families and communities (The Fairtrade Premium)? Fairtrade skincare and wellness products are a small but growing category in the Fairtrade sector. Let’s look at cocoa butter, a main ingredient of chocolate but also very popular in skincare products the world over…
The cocoa powder market was evaluated at US$2.610 billion for the year 2020, whereas the cocoa butter market is nearly double that value at US$4.090 Billion. As you can see, chocolate and other foods containing cocoa are just the tip of the iceberg when you look at how that value is spent across industries. Approximately, 76% of cocoa butter is used for personal care, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and aromatherapy.
Despite the huge value of the cocoa industry, the majority of cocoa farmers live in extreme poverty and the sector continues to face serious challenges. Challenges range from child labour, deforestation, and unsafe working conditions. The main driving factor behind all of these issues is poverty.
WHAT YOU SEE ISN’T ALWAYS WHAT YOU GET
There are so many skincare brands that use ingredients from lower income countries and demand the cheapest and best deals from farmers and factories. Loads of ingredients in skincare come from shea, coconuts, olives, cocoa and palm fruit. By processing these, especially palm oil and coconuts, companies are able to label the ingredient as other things like glycerine, Coco-Caprylate, cetearyl alcohol and glyceryl stearate. To the average consumer, you wouldn’t know that coconuts or palm oil were used in the products, let alone whether there were any environmental, animal or human rights violations caused by their production.
SELF REGULATION IS NO REGULATION
Cocoa butter and shea butter are big business in the skincare industry. There are other organisations that have been set up to help stop child labour and slavery, control the price of cocoa and shea, and provide farmers a safe platform for representation. The problem with these particular organisations is that they’re owned and run by the companies that profit most from the ingredients. They’re self-regulated organisations that allow companies to further their own interests in the disguise of promoting others.
There’s a current court case against one of these organisations for knowingly ignoring slavery. It doesn’t make sense to trust organisations that are owned or run by the people who profit from the thing they’re trying to stop.
WHO IS THE FAIREST OF THEM ALL?
Fairtrade’s work starts with the Fairtrade Standards. The standards help create a baseline of good social, economic and environmental practices within cooperatives to support more sales and higher profits. The Fairtrade Minimum Price is a safety net that gives farmers a minimum price for goods — a vital step towards securing living incomes. The Fairtrade Premium is an additional sum paid to cooperatives on top of every sale, which they can invest to benefit all members.
At Mumanu we want to be sure that the products we make and sell are never abusive to animals, humans or the planet. Beauty should never be at the expense of someone else’s happiness.
Living in New Zealand for about eight years I always used balms for my massage work because they’re cleaner and easier to use than oils. When I returned to the UK in 2014, I wanted to create my own range of balms with ingredients that would add maximum benefit to a person’s skin and wellbeing. Using Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter and Coconut Oil, I knew the only right way to do this would be to certify organic and Fairtrade. ” Samantha, Founder of Mumanu
THE MOST TRUSTED & ETHICAL OF THEM ALL
The Fairtrade mark is the most iconic certification for fair trade products in the UK and internationally. There are other fair trade certifications but Fairtrade International is the most recognised and covers production from farm to end product. This is really important to us as a manufacturer and brand for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, you already know the logo and can trust it without needing to do lengthy research. Secondly, as a buyer of ingredients from lower income countries, we know that the Fairtrade Foundation and Soil Association regularly audit and inspect the farms and co-operatives to ensure standards are met. Not only have they done the hard work for us, they’re also an independent third party. Claiming fair trade without any third-party certifications is just greenwashing. Why should anyone believe a brand that makes such important claims without independent evidence?
THE ONLY SKINCARE BRAND TO SELL ONLY ORGANIC & FAIRTRADE CERTIFIED PRODUCTS
The Fairtrade mark makes Mumanu products better. From sourcing ingredients and updating formulas to packaging design and marketing, the Fairtrade Foundation have put Mumanu products a cut above the rest. Despite being more expensive than some other brands, people buy our skincare and wellness balms because they carry the Soil Association organic AND Fairtrade marks. Globally, very few skincare brands are Fairtrade certified (currently there’s only eight brands in the UK), even fewer have both certificates. Mumanu is the only skincare brand to have both organic and Fairtrade certificates on ALL our products.
Currently, we use organic and Fairtrade Coconut Oil from Sri Lanka and organic and Fairtrade Cocoa Butter from Dominican Republic and Peru. Our Shea butter, from Ghana, is certified organic but we’ve not been able to get it, in small quantities, with both certifications for a few years. We’re hoping it’ll be available again very soon. Three Mumanu balms also contain organic and Fairtrade Vanilla from Madagascar.
FAIRTRADE SKINCARE FOR YOUR PEACE OF MIND
By purchasing certified organic and Fairtrade, we know that children and slaves have not been used to farm cocoa pods and women have not been taken advantage of in farming shea and vanilla. When you buy Fairtrade cocoa products, farmers can gradually earn better incomes, improve their standard of living and plan for the long term. We know that farmers have earned a good price (The Fairtrade Minimum Price) and earned extra money for their community to use on great projects (The Fairtrade Premium). We also know that Fairtrade farmers can access education and support in their businesses to help protect them against and combat climate change. We can pass all of this knowledge on to you with just a little logo on each of our products.
Learn more at fairtrade.net.