Where Does My Fairtrade Honey Come From?
Ah, honey, the lively liquid gold that brightens our breakfasts each morning, sweetens our herbal teas and is our go to when we’re feeling under the weather. Where would we be without it? You’re probably aware of the wealth of health benefits that come from honey as a natural remedy, but do you know where your Traidcraft honey actually comes from, and what good you’re doing for the world by buying it? If not, listen up.
The journey all started as a beekeeper project in the 1980s, funded by the church during the Pinochet regime, but became an official APICOOP co-operative in 1997 and has since been a long-standing supplier of Traidcraft honey. Our delicious Traidcraft Chilean Nectar Set Honey begins its life on an APICOOP co-operative in the Valdivia region of South America. This rural area presents limited work opportunities for the residents, which is one of the reasons this co-operative works so well.
APICOOP ensures that the 350 beekeepers who lovingly tend to the honey before it makes its way into our jars, are given technical assistance when harvesting the honey. For example, they don’t need to have four people to carry each of their barrels of honey anymore – now they use their forklift truck! Not only this, but APICOOP provide the beekeepers with a marketing channel and fair prices for their honey. They also have access to an agronomist, who advises them on avoiding and curing bee diseases. And let’s face it – keeping those bees happy and healthy is key to making delicious honey!
But it’s not just bee diseases which pose threat to the well-being of the farms – they have natural disasters to contend with, too. Recently, Calbuco Volcano erupted and wiped out a substantial amount of their crop and 5,000 hives, which could have seen any regular smallholding cease trading. Luckily, as APICOOP is a co-operative, they don’t just rely on one area for production, so they were able to pull through.
Due to the recent global economic changes, it became too risky for the APICOOP co-operative to concentrate solely on one product. So, more recently, through support from Traidcraft, APICOOP has diversified their expertise into dried blueberries; the world’s first fair trade blueberries, in fact!
As well as reducing the risk of relying on just one product, the blueberry project helps to provide additional employment, particularly for women in the community, to secure employment in this rural area where jobs are scarce. Women now have the opportunity to work during the harvesting period, around their family commitments, with guarantee of fair payment.
Beekeepers and blueberry farmers are also given a Fairtrade premium, which is paid to producers on top of their agreed price. This extra premium is invested back into the community, for things like boreholes for water, secure access to electricity or a collection centre for local tea farmers to bring their crop.
The additional income from the blueberries has made APICOOP less reliant on loans from commercial banks and means it’s been able to develop a ‘community bank’, making low-interest loans to members, so they can buy more hives and other equipment.
We’re sure you’ll find that your Traidcraft Honey will taste even sweeter now that you know exactly where it’s come from and the good you’re doing by eating it! If you’re interested in fair trade, tracing your foods back to their origins and meeting the people behind the products, why not book your place on a Meet the People tour?