Product Focus: Fair Trade Charcoal

Spotting a gap in the UK market, barbecue product suppliers Rectella International and Jumbo Charcoal teamed up with Traidcraft to introduce a new range of fair trade charcoal for one of the country’s leading supermarket chains.

Alistair Leadbetter of Traidcraft Exchange spoke to FSC UK about the importance of carrying both the FSC and Traidcraft Fair Trade labels on these products.

Product name: Coop Fair Trade Instant Barbecue; Coop Fair Trade Lumpwood Charcoal
FSC label: FSC 100%
Company name: Rectella International; Jumbo Charcoal
FSC licence number: FSC-C015372 (Rectella); FSC-C013932/FSC-C015680 (Jumbo)
Licensed since: 2001 (both companies)
Website: (Rectella); (Jumbo)

Traidcraft – comprised of an NGO and a trading PLC – has been involved in ethical trade and developing ethical supply chains for 40 years. Traidcraft Exchange, the NGO, delivers development projects around the world, particularly in South Asia and East Africa, as well as consulting services to businesses and other organisations in various commodities and supply chains around the world.

Recognising that the Coop supermarket chain is a leader for fair trade products, Rectella identified an opportunity to introduce fair trade charcoal to the UK market. As there are no specific fair trade standards in place for charcoal, Rectella and their Namibian partners Jumbo worked with Traidcraft to assess their supply chain against generic fair trade standards, such as working conditions, fair pay, health and safety, and to introduce a business model similar to that used by Fairtrade International to certify products like chocolate and coffee.

Traidcraft requires farmers supplying fair trade charcoal to be audited to ensure they meet FSC standards. Alistair Leadbetter explains, “Namibia faces a significant problem from bush encroachment, which impacts negatively on the biodiversity of the land, on the ability to replenish groundwater, as well as the viability of farming. Bush encroachment was caused by poor land management in the early to mid-20th century. The environmental rigour that FSC brings is therefore crucial to us in Traidcraft and within the wider world of fair trade.”

Traidcraft evaluates two farms every year, interviewing the farmers and reviewing the paperwork, assessing working conditions as well as interviewing the burners. They also interview workers, managers and factory owners at Jumbo and assess factory conditions.

Another key element of the fair trade model that Traidcraft helped Rectella and Jumbo to develop is the Fair Trade Premium. Alistair says, “This premium is 10% of the factory gate price of all charcoal sold as fair trade. The Premium Fund is then democratically managed by the Premium Committee based at Jumbo. They have used the money for projects such as housing, bicycles, education and water supplies.”

The FSC-certified range of fair trade charcoal products, including instant barbecues and packs of easy light charcoal, produced by Rectella and Jumbo in collaboration with Traidcraft is sold under the Coop label in their supermarkets throughout the UK.

FSC recently visited Namibia to find out more about Jumbo Charcoal’s operations as part of the Together We are FSC campaign. Find out more

A version of this article originally appeared in the August 2019 edition of Forest Matters.

© Forest Stewardship Council® · FSC® F000231