Stellar switches fair trade certification

Stellar Organics has left the Fairtrade Labelling Organisation (FLO) and switched to Fair For Life (FFL) for a more flexible way of working as its business expands.

Talking to the drinks business last week, Lee Griffin, marketing manager for Stellar, explained that despite FLO’s great help over the years, its system is now too inflexible for the company.

“The FLO system is very rigid,” she said. “With our growth over the last few years this has made things very tricky. We need greater flexibility.”

Stellar began with six farms and this figure has since risen to 14. Managing director Willem Rossouw said that over the next few years that will rise by another six.

As FLO requires all participating farms to be counted as a separate entity, everything has to be done 14 times, something that is time consuming and increases costs.

The cost of FLO accreditation – which goes towards marketing – was also an issue and contributed significantly to costs. FFL, by contrast, does not charge as much for accreditation, meaning more money can go back to both the winery and workers and their communities.

FFL’s flexibility also means that Stellar will now be able to use the Eco-cert label alongside the FFL fair trade logo. As Rossouw said: “We want people to remember that we’re not just fair trade, we’re organic as well.

“It’s a chance for us to unify our organic and ethical sides.”

Following Stellar’s move, Griffin thought it would be interesting to see if any other wineries might consider switching over to FFL.

“In South America a number of wineries have switched over already,” she noted. “One change always generates interest among others but it wouldn’t necessarily suit all others.

“Stellar has a other USPs (referring to the fruit farms it also operates) and if we felt that the change would’ve compromised the benefits for our workers then we wouldn’t have done it.”

For more on FLO and fair trade wines see the July 2011 issue of the drinks business.

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