As part of the Fair Trade fortnight, L'Occitane en Provence confirms its position in favour of an ethical economic model and is committed to supporting all its producers of iconic ingredients in their fair trade certification process. Sustainable and structuring, this certification is an essential prerequisite to meet the ambitious objective that L'Occitane sets itself: that of increasing the resilience of all in the face of future climate and social impacts.
Occitane and shea butter, a model for the success of a fair trade sector
Since its beginnings, L'Occitane has chosen an ethical and sustainable approach: that of protecting nature and supporting the people who take care of it. A pioneering approach that began in 1980, when the founder of the brand met the women producers of Shea Butter in Burkina Faso. The foundations of a fair and sustainable partnership are immediately established: the brand sources directly from women's cooperatives from which it buys a processed product with high added value.
In 2009, obtaining the Ecocert Fair Trade certification, according to the international Fair for Life standard, will recognize the value of this partnership established on multi-year contracts, the implementation of pre-financing and the guarantee of a fair purchase price. For L'Occitane, it is the recognition of an exceptional collaboration participating in the preservation of traditional know-how and the improvement of living conditions for these communities of women.
On the solid foundation of this fair trade certification, L'Occitane launched in 2018 the Resist program (resilience, ecology, strengthening, independence, structuring and training). "We have supported more than 10,000 women to preserve the shea trees of which they are the guardians, to modernize and limit the environmental impacts of their butter production processes and especially to become less dependent on the orders of L'Occitane by developing their portfolio of activities and customers," says Justine Humbert, head of sustainable sectors. Symbol of a policy of continuous development, the Resist program consolidates the foundations of a sustainable future for the Shea industry. The "exemplarity" of this supply chain was praised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 2013 and 2019.
Fair trade and agroecology, a sustainable goal
With its experience in shea, the L'Occitane brand is now committed to supporting all its producers of iconic ingredients in Provence and Corsica, so that they obtain their fair trade certification, by 2025. Among the sectors concerned, almond, cade wood, immortelle, lavender, rose or verbena. "This is an extremely structuring approach for securing our supplies. The recent crises we have gone through, health and political, have proven the need for multi-year contracts and the capital value of sustainable partnerships," explains Justine Humbert. And this is proving and will prove to be even more the case in the face of the environmental challenges of our time. For producers, fair trade ensures the sustainability of their farm and allows them to invest in the future. "Fair trade is one of the solutions, it offers everyone a much better resistance in an unstable context."
For L'Occitane, there is no agroecological transition without economic equity: fair trade establishes the prerequisites for the ecological transition. L'Occitane then made the choice, to support this certification process while accompanying its producers in their necessary agroecological transition, to participate in 2021 in the creation of the Agroecology and Fair Trade association, bringing together about fifteen partner farms.
Its objectives are multiple: to allow the fair certification of its members by giving them the necessary associative framework, to access the fair development fund once the certification has been obtained, but also to pool learning and share knowledge in agroecology. The association benefits in particular from the support of agricultural engineers from the Biodiversity and Sustainable Ingredients department and external experts to deploy experiments in agroforestry or land cover. " If producers are on the front lines of climate change, they are also part of the solution. It is our responsibility to implement commercial partnerships but also technical, financial and human support that allows them to initiate this ecological transition. We must share the risks inherent in these changes in practices," according to Justine Humbert. She concludes: "Promoting equity, inclusion and regenerative agriculture is not philanthropy, it is the only possible response of our companies to today's challenges. It is also the only possible way as a citizen, as parents, to offer a bright future to our children. »