1 November 2022
Supplier relationships: Poland
Situated on the edge of a UNESCO World Heritage site, this Polish supplier of wild-harvested ingredients is an important partner.
Nurturing long-term, mutually-beneficial relationships with suppliers is something that is integral to everything we do – we know we are nothing without our network of suppliers around the world, and we invest considerably in developing these partnerships. Although the pandemic has created significant challenges for this area of the business, we have managed to continue to support these suppliers, whilst ensuring we maintain important supply chains for our customers.
Much of our work with suppliers places an emphasis on ensuring appropriate farming practises are in place, including safeguarding species against depletion in areas where plants are wild-harvested, and supporting farmer training programmes to develop knowledge and understanding. In October, Matt Richards (Supplier Relationships Manager) was finally able to make the journey to Poland to spend time visiting a key supplier of wild-harvested products, and with whom we have worked for many years. This supplier handles more than 200 species of wild-harvested products, including a number which have been certified FairWild since 2009 such as Nettle, Yarrow and Elderflower – the FairWild programme certifies wild-harvested ingredients based on standards which protect plant species and local wildlife from the effects of over-harvesting, and makes sure local collectors enjoy fair working conditions. Matt spent time with the team there reviewing production operations, learning more about how they have been using their FairWild premiums, assessing plant quality, and listening to ways in which we can support their continued success.
Whilst this supplier works hard to meet required standards, they also face a number of environmental, political, and sociocultural challenges. They are based on the edge of one of the last medieval forests in Europe - a UNESCO World Heritage site and important nature reserve which is still home to European Bison, an area which needs to be able to represent economic value in order to remain protected. Environmentally, the physical Belarus/Poland border which runs right through the forest has had an impact on the free movement and natural wildlife habitats, and the significantly higher temperatures during the last year have impacted crops, most notably Nettle which requires consistent levels of both sun and water in order to thrive. The recruitment of new collectors is also a considerable challenge. Collectors tend to take on these roles as extra jobs alongside their ‘main’ positions, and generally later in life, and so maintaining sufficient numbers can be problematic.
In spite of these challenges, this supplier continues to thrive and provide exceptional quality herbs, whilst continuing to work on ways in which they can improve their operations such as installing solar panels to provide power for their running machinery. By spending time with our suppliers and cementing these relationships, we are able to share these exceptional supply chains with our customers directly, maintaining the integrity with which we have sourced our ingredients for the last 40 years.