Natural Foods Merchandiser
conscious food sourcing

Conscious food and beverage companies go the sourcing distance

Sourcing matters as much today as the ingredients in the package. These 12 natural food and homegoods companies bring conscientious sourcing to the fore.

Extensive work by organizations including Fair Trade USA, Fair for Life, The Rainforest Alliance and Equal Exchange have made ethical sourcing of commodity crops such as coffee, tea, cocoa and sugar possible on a scale large enough for global mainstream brands to tap.

These are important advances that broaden the availability of ethical products. But what happens when consumers demand newer-to-market ingredients including maca, baobab, palm oil, coconut and more? How can manufacturers source from lower-income countries like Peru and East Africa without extensive infrastructure built by larger organizations?

“The best way is to establish close personal relationships right from the start,” explains Zach Adelman, founder and CEO of Navitas Naturals, one of the largest importers of organic maca. “Visiting in person, and sharing their world with them helps the bonding and mutual understanding and respect. Investing and donating in the local community helps strengthen international sourcing relationships and bonds.”

When manufacturers don’t have such relationships, ingredients can become entrenched in unwieldy supply chains and, in some cases, exploitation.

There is a palpable shift in natural values that centers on bettering global communities.

Stock the products on the following pages to support exemplary sourcing practices.

Conscious tropical oils

With skyrocketing demand, tropical oil production has had severe impacts on the rainforests of Indonesia and Malaysia, where the majority of palm and coconut oils are sourced. But tropical oils can be produced sustainably and responsibly. These companies innovate with shortened supply chains and ingredient traceability. 

Nutiva Red Palm Oil
Nutiva partners with organic supplier Natural Habitats to ensure this crimson-hued, Ecuadorian palm oil is sourced without contributing to deforestation. This USDA Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified and Fair For Life product is chock-full of beta-carotene and perfect for a butter replacement in high-heat sautés and baked goods. SRP: $8.99

Big Tree Farms Organic Coconut Nectar
This vertically integrated brand works directly with more than 14,000 small, organic farms to source low-glycemic, high-nutrient USDA Organic and Fair Trade coconut nectar. Big Tree prides itself on ecological sustainability (the company even built its headquarters/processing facility out of bamboo in Bali, Indonesia, where its farms are located). Pour the coconut nectar over pancakes, yogurt or ice cream for an awesomely sweet experience. SRP: $8.49

Earth Balance Protein Peanut Blend
Earth Balance taps into the consumer desire for more plant-based protein with this pumped-up spread, simply made with peanuts, pea protein, agave syrup, palm fruit oil and salt for 9 grams protein per serving. We love supporting Earth Balance for its recent pledge to transition its entire product line to responsible palm, which includes sustainability and human rights commitments. SRP: $6.99

Harmless Harvest 100% Raw Coconut Water with Fair Trade Coffee
Organic, Fair For Life-certified coffee extract paired with Harmless Harvest’s HPP-pasteurized organic coconut water creates a blended cold beverage with extraordinary taste. Naturally sweet coconut water enhances coffee’s flavor, and delivers 50 mg caffeine in each serving. We keep returning to Harmless Harvest for the brand’s long-term pledge to support coconut water suppliers and individual farmers. SRP: $4.99

Conscious homegoods

Extend your customer’s natural habits beyond the kitchen with these conscious lifestyle-focused products.

Good Paper
Good Paper’s beautiful handmade cards (that use fair trade, recycled material) are crafted by women rescued from trafficking in the Philippines, and young adults orphaned by disease in Rwanda. The folks behind Good Paper partner with the International Justice Mission to provide jobs and a fresh start. Bonus: Each card is hand-signed by the person who made it; you can look up their stories on Good Paper’s website. SRP: $5.99

Root Votive Candles Seeking Balance Entice Orange Clove
Enjoy the soft glow of these soy-based wax votive candles, infused with fragrant and nontoxic essential oils. We also love this line of candles for its sustainably sourced wooden, rather than metal-cored, wick. SRP: $11.95

Repurpose Heavy Duty Compostable Bowls
A part of being a conscious business is examining the entire lifecycle of a product—including what happens when you need to throw it out. Repurpose makes its line of compostable cups, bowls, plates and cutlery from renewable corn, sugar cane and bamboo, the fastest growing plant. Each microwave-safe bowl can break down in an industrial composter in 90 days. SRP: $3.79 per 20 pack

PACT Organic
Not only is cotton considered the dirtiest crop because of heavy insecticide use, but the textile industry also is often rife in human rights violations. That’s why USDA Organic clothing brands like PACT are so important to support. This Certified B Corporation apparel manufacturer specializes in basics (T-shirts, socks, underwear, camisoles), and is certified by GOTS, Fair Trade USA Factory, and SA 8000 and OEKO-TEX 100—two verifications that protect factory worker rights. Plus, the socks are the comfiest. SRP: $8.00-$10.00

Conscious superfoods

As brands innovate with new high-nutrient ingredients that are just reaching American consumers, it’s more important than ever to establish responsible supply chain infrastructure.

Pitaya Plus Smoothie Packs
Pitaya, also known as dragonfruit, is a bright-pink fruit native to Central America. High in fiber, magnesium and antioxidants, blend this tasty organic fruit puree into your morning smoothie for a sunny pick-me-up. This raw, non-GMO, one-ingredient product makes pitaya more accessible. Bonus: Pitaya Plus works with their Nicaraguan organic farmers to build composting infrastructure. SRP: $6.99

Bumbleroot Superfood Hydration Drink Mix Blueberry
Portable packets of prebiotic and vitamin C-rich baobab and dehydrated coconut water are sweetened and flavored with dried blueberries and organic monk fruit. Bumbleroot works directly with suppliers to pay fair prices to baobab harvesters in Zimbabwe. SRP: $1.99

Rebbl Super Herbs Maca Mocha Coconut-Milk Elixir
This USDA Organic beverage infuses creamy coconut milk with chicory root, dandelion root, carob and adaptogenic maca extract. Sweetened with coconut sugar and flavored with vanilla extract. Rebbl also collaborates with and donates 2.5 percent of revenue to Not For Sale, an organization that helps prevent human trafficking in vulnerable areas of the world. SRP: $3.99

Navitas Naturals Maca Powder
Reports of exploitation in the maca trade have appeared in media outlets over the last few months, but Navitas Naturals remains committed to sourcing this Peruvian root consciously through direct farmer partnerships. Add this adaptogenic ingredient into morning smoothies to energize without caffeine. SRP: $19.99 per 4 ounces

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