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Dr. Bronner’s Demonstrates that Palm Oil can be Produced Sustainably Under Fair Trade and Organic Certification

As Demand for Sustainable Palm Oil Increases, Leading Natural Soap Brand Offers "Gold Standard" Model for its Production

March 27, 2013

ESCONDIDO, CA Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, family-owned maker of the top-selling natural brand of soap in North America, has released an animated video that tells the story of their Fair Trade and Organic palm oil operation in Ghana’s Eastern Region. To view the video entitled “Dr. Bronner’s Fair Trade Palm Oil: Animated”, go to: http://bit.ly/12GVjz7.

“As more brands start to announce commitments to shifting to sustainable sources of palm oil we want to educate consumers about our own efforts that have created fair and sustainable supply chains for all major ingredients used in our products,” explains David Bronner, President of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps. “Considering the negative impact of conventional palm oil production, we are particularly proud to have demonstrated that palm oil can be produced in a fair, responsible, and sustainable way.”

Palm oil is an ingredient used in about half of all products sold in grocery stores throughout the United States. To supply the massive demand and create arable land for homogenized palm tree plantations, rainforests from Brazil to Borneo are destroyed by industrial clear-cutting and strategic burning. Often, these plantations in developing tropical nations are run by multi-national corporations that exploit farmers and laborers, trample native land rights, and do nothing to improve workers’ communities or standard of living. In Borneo, this practice of industrial palm oil production is destroying the last remaining natural orangutan habitats. Around the world, the slash-and-burn approach to natural resources is destroying precious ecosystems to the point of mass extinction.

“While palm plantations are among the worst culprits of conventional corporate industrial agriculture, many other industrially grown conventional crops have similar negative impacts,” David Bronner continues. “Any crop can be grown sustainably or unsustainably, and palm is no exception.”

Serendipalm Co. Ltd., Dr. Bronner’s sister company in Ghana, was launched in 2007. It has been a cornerstone of the brand’s strategy to source all main ingredients used in their top-selling products from projects with organic and fair trade certification. The entire operation, based in rural eastern Ghana, was built “from scratch.” Today, the mill is the largest and most attractive employer in its host town of Asuom, with over 200 employees. It buys all its organic certified palm fruits from some 500 local smallholder farmers, who practice organic farming methods that supports ecological biodiversity. The total certified acreage for Serendipalm farmers is 4,000 acres.

“Dr. Bronner’s and Serendipalm prioritize working directly with smallholder farmers and establishing long-term direct trading partnerships that deliver greater direct impacts to local communities,” says Gero Leson, Director of Special Operations for Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps. “Our close connection with our farmers ensures a clean and transparent supply chain, eliminates intermediaries and allows for direct cooperation, both on the farm and in the community.”

Serendipalm currently operates one mill at full capacity servicing only Dr. Bronner’s and a select group of European customers. It currently produces 350 metric tons (MT) of crude palm oil per year. In order to meet Dr. Bronner’s growing demand for fair trade palm oil, Serendipalm is currently expanding the mill to improve efficiencies, thus increasing positive community impact.

Unique to Fair Trade, local community development projects funded by sales of certified Fair Trade products are chosen jointly by local farmers, workers, and other stakeholders for the betterment of the community at large. This democratic and participatory process underlines Fair Trade’s transformational impact for local communities. From the project’s beginning Serendipalm has been an active community partner. The project’s Fair Trade Fund has invested in several notable development projects including building nurses’ quarters for a local hospital and constructing four deep water wells to provide clean drinking water for the community. In addition, Serendipalm has helped local farmers to replant their palm trees with more productive varieties through a zero-interest loan program. The most recent initiative was the purchase, distribution, and installation of 5,000 mosquito bed nets for local households to help reduce malaria infection. This project was funded in part by a crowdfunding campaign in the United States, which raised $47,100 in donations. For an overview of the campaign please go to: www.drbronners.com/indiegogo.

For further information on Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, please visit: http://www.drbronner.com.

To download a PDF copy of this press release, click here.

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