I met Jolanda Van Hal, Consultant at ProFound, at the BIOFACH trade fair where we were interviewing individuals about why FairWild was important. Profound works to develop sustainable value chains for natural ingredients for food, cosmetics and health. The word sustainable has been over-used. Yet, in this short video, Jolanda explains the specific meanings it has when it comes to sourcing raw materials in the botanical industry.
ProFound often works to help communities develop markets for products produced from wild plants. They also work with FairWIld in these communities to ensure that there is third party certification showing that the markets for these products promote biodiversity as well.
At BioFach, they had an Organic Africa Pavilion where producers from Africa could set up booths to introduce their products to an international market. I later saw Jolanda and ProFound senior consultant Robbie Hogervorst at Natural Products ExpoWest, one of the largest natural products trade shows held annually in Anaheim, CA where they were traveling with a team from Myanmar.
Jolanda and Robbie introduced the team of 6 companies and 2 business support organizations to potential buyers and provided training before and after the show. They also walked around the halls with booth after booth of products to show the Myanmarese how fiercely competitive the market is and the kind of quality needed to break into it. Much of ProFound’s work focuses on working with entrepreneurs in emerging markets to help with all of the steps needed to produce products with natural ingredients that can enter the market.
At the end of our conversation, Jolanda talked about cost and the responsibility of the consumer. She raised important questions that need to be answered if efforts for sustainable – and regenerative – businesses can actually succeed, answers we each need to decide for ourselves:
“Consumers are really tricky,” she said. “Because I think in some ways they want to take responsibility, but they almost never really take the responsibility. “At ProFound we have been talking a lot about the fair price – and what is really the cost of the products? Research on bigger agricultural products shows that what we pay as consumers isn’t really what it costs. But no one really wants to pay more.” She paused and then added, “I think if we say that we want to be responsible and we want things to be sustainable, we need to be willing to pay for it to be that way.”