Fair Play: Why Karma Drinks makes Fairtrade-certified fizzy drinks
We want to make sure our fizzies are made in a way that puts people and planet first. That's why we've always used Fairtrade ingredients
When we started out with our first drink, Karma Cola, there was no such thing as a Fairtrade cola nut. That's why we set up the Karma Foundation: to source our magical main ingredient in a way that supports the people that grow it.
Here's a fact that might shock you: the cola nut has been around for centuries, chewed by the people of West Africa for energy and used as a symbol of respect and friendship.
Along came a certain big name cola brand and hijacked this ingredient for itself. PSA: that cola doesn't even contain real cola nut any more, it definitely isn't Fairtrade – and even though billions of its colas are drunk every day, they definitely don't benefit the people who discovered cola nut in the first place.
The Karma Foundation works to improve the economic and social independence of our cola nut growers in Sierra Leone. Our work has been so game-changing that we were crowned the World's Fairest Trader by The Fairtrade Foundation in 2014.
A lot has changed since then – we've got seven more drinks to prove it – but some things have stayed the same: Karma Drinks continues to create drinks that taste good and do good, and a large part of that is working with Fairtrade ingredients.
As a small company, we rely on the Fairtrade label as something of an outsourced conscience.
We know that when our drinks wear the Fairtrade badge, they've been made in a way that benefits the people growing our ingredients. And more importantly, you know we're fulfilling our promise.
For us, The Fairtrade Foundation is a third party organisation with a rigorous and transparent auditing system our customers can trust. When they see the certification on our products, they feel confident the claims we make are honest and accurate.
So what does Fairtrade really stand for, and how does it benefit our growers?
Fair trade vs Fairtrade
Fair trade is trade between companies in developed countries and producers in developing countries in which fair prices are paid to the producers.
The Fairtrade certification means it's been certified as fairly traded by an independent body. You know when a product – like your favourite fiery Gingerella, made with Sri Lankan ginger – is fairly traded because it's proudly stamped with the iconic Fairtrade logo.
The Fairtrade Foundation now supports more than 2,000 different products and people in 74 countries, channeling development benefits to millions of farmers and strengthening their capacity to do business.
How does Fairtrade work?
Put simply, companies that use certified Fairtrade ingredients pay a premium. This premium is how Fairtrade ensures sustainable economic development by sharing the advantage across communities. It takes a lot more than accounting and enlightened supply chain management to lift people out of poverty through trade.
Why is Fairtrade important?
Fairtrade goes way beyond the certification. In the last 25 years, it's become a global movement, raised consciousness, established ethical supply chains and enabled stakeholders – at both ends of these transactions – to benefit from the trade it promotes.
The way The Fairtrade Foundation functions means the communities it works with are empowered to decide the use of these funds. It also develops policy around social justice and environmental protection and has made a massive difference to the lives of millions.
Closer to home, Fairtrade is important because it's shifting the way people think and buy, and they can choose their products confident they're making a good ethical choice.
If there's reason to doubt Fairtrade's integrity, or any confusion or suspicion around its aims, then consumers won't care. Ironically the losers will be the intended beneficiaries; the growers and our planet.
The Karma Foundation
We also rely on organic certification and our own foundation, The Karma Foundation, which administer funds and activities we undertake in Sierra Leone. We've learnt how to do this from our friends at Fairtrade, specifically through a pioneering Fairtrade advocate and our Foundation chairman Albert Tucker.
1% of revenue from all our drinks goes to our foundation, helping empower our growers both economically and socially. So no one misses out – and that sounds like fair play to us.