Fair trade certification for mint oils

By Sarah Hills

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Fair trade

The organic oil specialist, Earthoil, has achieved fair trade status for its Indian mint growing facility under an Institute for Marketecology (IMO) scheme in order to meet growing demand for ethical products.

Earthoil said it already had organic status for its mint but achieving Fair for Life status reflected its commitment to ethical trading and “validates its position as a key supplier and producer of organic and fair trade ingredients into the cosmetics, flavour and fragrance sectors”​.

IMO’s Fair for Life initiative is a brand neutral, third party certification programme. It offers fair trade certification to an array of materials and products that are not yet covered under the Fairtrade Labeling Organization (FLO), including multi-ingredient products and wild harvested produce.

Earthoil, which has a head office in the UK, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Treatt, an independent ingredients supplier to the flavour and fragrance industry.

Hugo Bovill, managing director of Treatt, which acquired Earthoil last year, told FoodNavigator.com that FLO tended to cover individual commodities such as honey, juices and rice. But there was no FLO certificate for mint oils or menthol.

Meanwhile he said: “We are seeing greater demand for ethically traded products.

“Consumer goods companies have approached us wanting something they could put on their label quickly to show that they are purchasing in an ethical fashion.”

Bovill added:“We buy ethically but we didn’t have all the certification that a third party audit brings.”

To achieve Fair for Life status, Earthoil India had to fulfil certain key criteria such as guaranteeing good working conditions, respecting core labour rights and ensuring smallholder groups have a fair relationship with farmer organisations (or the contracting company) and the individual farmer.

Earthoil now supplies organic and fair trade peppermint, cornmint (arvensis) and spearmint oils, menthol, rectified arvensis oil plus demetholised arvensis oil.

Peppermint, spearmint and menthol in particular are used in a variety of food and drink products ranging from confectionery to alcoholic beverages.

Bovill said that the company buys the mint at the farm gate, rather than from a dealer and they receive an average price during the week. This avoids the ups and downs of the Indian futures market which can move by as much as 10 per cent a day.

The mint is then processed and shipped around the world.

In addition, Earthoil also ensure premium payments are made to its individual farmers and it makes payments into a community fund.

IMO scheme

Fair For Life was introduced in 2006 and was designed to complement existing fair trade certification systems.

It is part of the IMO Social & FairTrade Programme and is based on several sets of key baseline standards, such as the ILO conventions, FLO fair trade standards and IFOAM Social Criteria.

Earthoil’s Indian grower project received a full audit by IMO prior to the award.

Founded in 2003 Earthoil India has grown as a managed community project in Uttar Pradesh from 200 to 600 small-scale farmers.

The Earthoil group of companies - which includes Earthoil Plantations Limited and Earthoil Kenya EPZ Proprietary Limited - grows, processes and supplies organic essential and pressed seed oils.

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