Mate Factor's Fair Trading Practices
The Mate Factor since its beginning has had a primary focus and mission to provide the world’s freshest, highest quality Yerba Mate while employing our national and global abilities to stimulate the local economies of our partners (we call them brothers and sisters) in South America.
The Mate Factor diligently pursues two key strategies in pursuit of its mission:
We passionately source materials of exceptional quality.
We continually research and implement techniques of producing and distributing unparalleled quality of Yerba Maté.
We devote our United States based resources for the furthering of awareness and availability of these resources and creating distribution channels to further the mission.
Fair trade, as it has come to be known, is a cornerstone of these strategies. The depth of our commitment to long-term sustainable relationships (even true, meaningful friendships) makes the fabric of our operations, which takes us to a level of cooperation beyond the typical business structure..
These same relationships promote transparency and openness in all our business together, for the mutual benefit of all parties, with a preferred focus on our South American friends, using our United States resources as a springboard for their excellent development of organics in Brazil. Our long term success in these relationships continues to deepen the true bonds between supplier and wholesaler. This sort of relationship has grown organically over the course of decades, was the foundation of our company, and creates an ever deepening connection between us. This is where the spirit of “Fair Trade” originates at the Mate Factor, but is found throughout our importing and domestic wholesaling operation.
To that end, The Mate Factor proudly and instinctively demonstrates compliance with generally accepted International Fair Trade principles. Below, we have provided an inventory of these principles, their understood meanings, and how we accomplish them..
1) CREATE OPPORTUNITY for artisans and farmers in the Global South who live in poverty and lack access to long term, well paying jobs. Domestic companies act in the interest of these producers to improve their quality of life.
As mentioned only briefly above, The Mate Factor, was born of a friendship between Mate Factor principals and several families native to Yerba Mate producing regions in Southern Brazil. Their affections towards one another, and common love of Yerba Mate produced the idea for the Mate Factor. The vision was to source better product, work together to ensure higher standards and production advancements to stimulate sustainable economies around Brazilian Mate producers. From that very first discussion, to the launching of our first round of products in the US, and into today, it has always been the center of our business to stimulate and grow every aspect of the business of our producers in Brazil.
In 1998, The Mate Factor was able to prepay for our first 2 sea containers, providing working capital for our producer. Since then, we have continued to assist in developing not only better jobs, but better, safer equipment, and better work environments for the producing cooperative.
One created opportunity worth highlighting: In 2003, The Mate Factor discussed the production of teabags with our producers. Purchase of this type of equipment was a large investment compared to bulk filling equipment. We agreed to prepay and pre-commit orders providing capital to purchase the machinery to produce teabags in Brazil. Our producers have since used this added capacity to not only furnish product to the Mate Factor, but to develop a separate Brazilian organic tea company, now widely distributed in Southern Brazil and recognized as a pioneer in the domestic organic mate market of Brazil.
Two other major accomplishments in Brazil were the purchase of a farm in the direct and exclusive ownership of our Brazilian producers and the construction of a state of the art production facility greatly enhancing everyday life for the staff.
This is not only an example, but a typical model of how this supplier-wholesaler relationship works in practice to create further opportunity.
DEVELOP TRANSPARENT & ACCOUNTABLE RELATIONSHIPS with artisans and farmers, to ensure that they have long-term jobs. Fair trade buyers and fair trade producers are honest with each other and work together to solve problems.
The Mate Factor supply chain for Yerba Mate is completely transparent, and as noted above, built on strong interpersonal ties. Producers have state of the art facilities, unparalleled worker hospitality, and as a testimony to that virtually no worker turnover over the course of the last decade.
BUILD CAPACITY of farmers, artisans and their communities. Domestic Companies invest time and resources to help producers build their businesses and improve their communities.
The successes of the Mate Factor domestically translate directly into projects to build not only capacity for mate producers, but massive increases in process technologies and operations. For instance, at the inception of the Mate Factor relationship, our supplier functioned as farm broker that would outsource all processing operations. Within the first two years, in a small garage sized building, began some very basic packaging of product. In the last ten years, the Mate Factor business relationship has been largely responsible for several new productions lines and technologies, which have enabled the Brazilian business to grow in the US and domestically.
PROMOTE FAIR TRADE by raising awareness about fair trade, educating customers and producers, and inspiring other businesses to adopt fair trade practices.
Fair trade means more than principles and price thresholding. Fair trade originates from a sincere respect for humankind in every place, culture and economic station. We are therefore compelled from the heart and soul to practices that build relationships and businesses that are full of care, respect and trust. Though our application of fair trade has specific social and economic realities, it’s really a love story we talk about every chance we get.
PAY PROMPTLY & FAIRLY and discuss prices openly and honestly, so that producers understand their costs and earn a fair wage. Domestic Companies also offer advance payment to help cover the cost of production.
The Mate Factor has always paid a premium for Yerba Mate. Although there are not Fair Trade standards set for the pricing of Yerba Mate to date, we have seen our price paid in excess of 15% more than any comparable Organic product. We have always maintained terms of 50% payment at time of order, 50% when delivered. We have also, upon occasion, prepaid and extended other monies when needed to expand the South American operations of our supplier.
SUPPORT SAFE & EMPOWERING WORKING CONDITIONS that are healthy and free of discrimination. In these workplaces, producers and employees have a voice in the decisions that affect them most.
We recognize that there is a community in Brazil that has a deep vested interest in decisions we make here domestically. Not only is communication amongst the workers in South America open and transparent, but all decisions, from scheduling to financing are made cooperatively. Additionally, many of those workers have spent time in our domestic businesses and vice versa. This fosters not only excellent communication, but an exchange of ideas, and most importantly, international bonds of friendship at every level of both entities.
ENSURE THE RIGHTS OF CHILDREN by never using exploitative child labor. Domestic Companies support children’s right to security, education, and play.
The Mate Factor and its yerba mate supplier has never employed child labor. Regular visits ensure not only product quality control and transparency in business dealings, but an assurance of this practice.
CULTIVATE ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP by encouraging responsible use of resources and eco-friendly means of production. Domestic Companies reduce, reuse, reclaim, and recycle materials wherever possible.
The growth and cultivation of yerba mate is a traditional craft, largely unchanged over many generations. Responsible cultivation techniques are a means of success for growers. As you may be aware, effort to increase yerba mate cultivation is actually a viable reforestation strategy. The Mate Factor has consistently supported these efforts. Environmental stewardship of lands are, to some extent, ensured by the Organic certifier, ECOCERT. Waste is constantly sought to be avoided at every station in our facilities and personal lives.
RESPECT CULTURAL IDENTITY of farmer and artisan communities. Fair trade products and production methods reflect the history and traditions of artisans and farmers in the Global South.
As mentioned above, Yerba Mate itself has a rich cultural heritage. The Mate Factor embraces this heritage on a personal, social, and commercial level. Our love and passion for this heritage and cultural fabric of the yerba mate producing South has made the tradition of mate a central part of the Mate Factor’s marketing and message since its beginning.