Pukka Herbs conserves threatened plant populations and sustains the livelihoods of collector communities with FairWild Standard

Certification to this standard attracts a higher price for the ingredient to compensate for the extra-effort required for sustainable collection and a premium is paid for social development projects.

Winner in the 2degrees Champions Awards 2014

Pukka Herbs is committed to sourcing ingredients from ethical and sustainable sources and wanted independent assurance that its wild-collected herbs were fair traded. Many fair trade certification systems focus on cultivated systems and do not include many criteria that are important for wild collection situations, including resource assessment and determination of a sustainable yield.

The FairWild Standard was launched in 2008 to meet this need and it remains the only exclusive tool for the establishment of sustainable wild collection and related certification. In 2011, Pukka made the decision to encourage its supply chain to adopt the FairWild Standard to conserve threatened and potentially vulnerable plant populations, protect local ecosystems and sustain the livelihoods of collector communities. Certification to this standard attracts a higher price for the ingredient to compensate for the extra-effort required for sustainable collection (the FairWild Price) and a premium is paid for social development projects (FairWild Premium).

What did you do?

We identified possible FairWild ingredients in our products and used a combination of existing supplier conversion and new supplier sourcing to encourage the supply chain to adopt the FairWild standard. Our activities included completing resource assessments, implementing wild harvesting management plans, conducting population recovery surveys for certification and working on projects.

We have been working with Applied Environment Research Foundation (AERF) since 2011 to conserve areas of the Western Ghats. We aim to source FairWild certified haritaki and bibhitaki fruit by 2015, which will provide a source of income for local subsistence farmers whilst conserving the habitat of flagship species including the Malabar Giant squirrel and Malabar hornbill. Our work to date has included organising collectors into a cooperative and setting up the necessary training and infrastructure. We continue to work closely with FairWild ingredient suppliers to improve the quality of their ingredients by providing guidance on harvesting, processing and storage techniques.

What was the result?

In October 2012 we launched Peppermint and Liquorice tea with FairWild certified liquorice from Kazakhstan. This was the first time consumers in the UK could buy a product bearing the FairWild logo. Collectors at this site earn almost double the average salary of other agricultural workers and are provided food and accommodation at the collection site, winter heating for their families, plus health and dental checks and recreation facilities.

Our supplier in Bulgaria now provides us with FairWild certified nettle leaf, lime flowers and elderflower and will shortly be able to supply FairWild dandelion, marshmallow root, raspberry leaf and juniper berry. In the Western Ghats in India, our project will focus on bibhtaki and haritaki harvesting and will provide collectors co-operatives with an alternative source of income while protecting plant and animal biodiversity. In 2013 a new project was established in Spain that will provide us with FairWild certified liquorice as of 2014.

The personal pitch

We have pioneered the FairWild Standard in the UK and remain the only UK manufacturer of finished Products with FairWild-certified ingredients that have demonstrable financial, social and environmental benefits. Our project in the Western Ghats will establish the first FairWild-certified operator in India. This project has provided an income for subsistence farmers and reduced deforestation. This has global climate change mitigation benefits as well as protecting the local ecosystem. It is innovative, a partnership between conservation, research and business partners and a replicable sustainable development model for other threatened biodiversity hotspots.

Our commitment to FairWild is direct, long term and includes pre-and post-certification support. All of our ingredient sourcing employees are actively involved in the certification process and carry out resource assessments, implement management plans and conduct recovery surveys. FairWild is an important consideration for our business and new products are developed considering the FairWild certification standard and FairWild is included on our organization's sustainability policy.

Supporting material

YouTube videos:

Pukka & the FairWild Movement

Embedded content: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRU5mr_gDS8

Saving the Hornbill: A Pukka Project to Enhance Biodiversity

Embedded content: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1s9m-wCyD-U

Websites:

  • Pukka project update

  • FairWild Press

  • AERF news Sebastian Pole and Ben Heron of Pukka Herbs, UK visited AERF sites in the Western Ghats to understand the potential for FairWild certification project in the second week of Jan 2012. AERF signed a MOU with Pukka Herbs for establishing a sustainable supply chain of selected wild medicinal plants from the Western Ghats.

This article forms Pukka Herbs' submission into the Supply Chain Management category of the 2degrees Champions Awards 2014.