Socially Responsible Buying - Real Fair Trade

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Thanks to the Edmonton team for a great CJ Managers meeting today... Thanks to Gayle for asking the question about Fair Trade.... I am asked quite often if our teas are fair trade and I'd like to explain my/our philosophy on tea procurement and fair trade.

I am a HUGE believer in the concept of fairly traded products and strongly believe that the original grower of the product and the workers on the ground should; in a DIRECT way benefit from selling products to North American Markets. In the current state of the North American tea business this is not a reality.... but I think Cargo & James can begin to change that.

As many of you know I'm not a big fan of the Fair Trade organizations, when I have inquired, I have never been able to get assurances that funds we paid for the certification would go directly to the gardens we were supporting. So I decided we would take a slightly different approach to procuring teas now, and in the future.

About a year ago, I decided we would try wherever and whenever possible to buy directly from gardens or estates growing the tea, even if we have to pay over market price.

When I started to explain this vision to my friend Rajiv Lochan in India, he quickly said he would like to work with us and develop a RESPONSIBLE buying arrangement with his Doke Tea Garden. I've told the story of Doke in the past, but what I did not explain is that this is only the beginning of a major Cargo & James Initiative to do the right thing! We are establishing a format and system to buy Socially Responsible teas and help build and grow trade with less fortunate growers around the world. Rajiv and I are committed to working hard on this initiative together through both Cargo & James and Lochan Tea.

.... back to Doke...

Doke is quickly becoming a major source of Cargo & James tea, and we are even testing flavoured Doke Teas, which will help us grow the volumes of tea purchased from Doke....

PURCHASING is the key to our approach. As we grow the volumes and make sure that garden workers are partners in the success, we can ensure that the local economy will benefit by our purchases. As is the case in the Doke arrangement, we pay well over auction price, so that we can help to ensure there is more benefit to the garden workers and owners. We also commit to buying a significant portion of the crop, or the entire crop, so the garden can plan for future growth and security.

This initiative is only 6 months old, but the results have been great, and Cargo & James is really excited to be a partner with Rajiv and his associates at Doke! In a nut shell, I feel that we can do alot more and see the results directly through this creative approach. I feel privileged to be involved in the tea industry today, where this opportunity to help enrich the lives of so many people is so REAL.

So that's my feeling on real fair trade.

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Cargo & James Tea
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