Over 90% of cashew nuts from West Africa are transported to Asia for processing instead of doing so locally and sending them directly to the customers. Though this may make sense economically, it is highly problematic in many other ways!
It is a combination of efficiency, customs protection and industrial promotion that makes the cost of processing in Asia rather attractive. Food trading is extremely price sensitive, so if processing in Asia saves only a few cents per kilogram, the buyers are on board – regardless of the social and ecological consequences in the producing countries and despite the long transport route of the raw nuts.
One could assume that it is different with nuts that are certified organic and fair trade. It seems like a mockery that the largest supplier of certified organic and fair trade nuts – the Singaporean food wholesaler Olam – is also the largest exporter of raw nuts from West Africa. The group has annual sales of USD 20 billion yet still has a foothold on the organic and fair-trade niche.
Labels don’t say anything about the route the goods have travelled before they reach us. They also don’t mention whether a company will accept job losses in West Africa for its profits, or whether buyers strategically change suppliers to decrease prices and effectively destabilise the retail chain by driving all its players into a ruinous price war. Labels are an important minimum standard, but they are all too often interpreted as a maximum standard.
Fortunately, there are more and more companies recognising that direct, long-term and transparent retail chains are important and, above all, more sustainable than labels. That’s why here at gebana, we continue to advocate for supply chains from farmers directly to consumers. True to the motto of gebana founder Ursula Brunner: "We’ll just do it ourselves.”
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Smallholders and local producers harvest and refine products of extraordinary quality worldwide. But for many of these producers there is no adequate or stable market. You can buy directly from these producers via the Access to Market Platform and help them to participate in the market. The principle behind this is crowd ordering – a new trade model whereby a number of consumers order a product together so as to achieve a minimum order quantity. We at gebana support the producers with our know-how, and organise the logistics.
Enable someone to make their first export with your order. Please note: Unexpected events often lead to delays, and you may find that the quality is not yet perfect. For this reason, your feedback is absolutely essential. The export experience and your feedback are important steps for the producers towards accessing the market. As a customer, you are witness to the whole process, playing your part in pioneering work.
You can order from these producers simply and directly. You receive your product as soon as the minimum order quantity has been reached and the products are ready. The risk for you is minimal, since the producers already have a product that is ready for market. This sales channel is beneficial to both the producers and the consumers, since it cuts out the middle man.
Be part of the development of supply chains and support innovation! Some of the ways you can do this include testing new products, giving feedback, or financially supporting the producers in their next steps. In doing so, you will be able to see for yourself how the products and supply chains develop.
This is where you can see all the completed projects on the Access to Market Platform at a glance. You can find out where products are now available from or whether the producers are still seeking a trade partner.