Published 11 March 2014

Communicating sustainability: promoting the FairWild Standard at BioFach, Germany

Germany, 11th March 2014 – Sustainable wild collection was highlighted at the BioFach trade fair in Nuremberg, Germany, last month. The organic trade fair celebrated its 25th anniversary this year, and remains an important event in the calendar for those involved with the trade in wild plant ingredients.

As a partner of FairWild Foundation, TRAFFIC supported the promotion of the FairWild Standard and certification scheme at the event. This year, FairWild Foundation co-exhibited with the Institute for Marketecology (IMOswiss AG). Information on the FairWild Standard and certification scheme was provided to a wide range of visitors to the stand. 

TRAFFIC staff also carried out industry meetings in connection with projects promoting sustainable harvest and fair trade in wild plant ingredients, such as the recently launched project to foster corporate social responsibility within the Traditional Chinese Medicine industry. 

A special presentation and discussion session was held on “Communicating sustainability: marketing of wild-collected herbal teas”, facilitated by ProFound – Advisers in Development, who are supporting the FairWild Foundation on communications and marketing issues. The event marked the recent entry to market of several new product ranges bearing the FairWild certification mark, helping companies to engage with the public on the topic of sustainable wild harvesting and fair trade. Many herbal teas contain ingredients that are collected from the wild although consumers are mostly unaware of this. The session explored how to source wild-collected herbs sustainably, how to verify this throughout the chain, and how to communicate it effectively to the target audience, including consumers. 

Guest speakers from Pukka Herbs Ltd. shared their experience with developing an award-winning consumer campaign centred on the marketing of a tea with FairWild-certified plant ingredients. They partnered with WWF to inspire consumers to create “a beautiful world”. 

Sebastian Pole (Co-Founder) and Ben Heron (Herbal Medicines Sustainability Manager) also shared their experiences of working on the ground with wild plant collection communities in India, where they are working to certify fruit collected from two tree species used in Ayurvedic medicine.

“You need colourful stories so consumers really appreciate the role of sustainable harvesting in the wider ecosystem. In India, the sustainable collection project is providing incentives to conserve trees that are the nesting habit of hornbills, and this is something that people really engage with. It excites both the public, and our own staff,” said Pole.

The session also explored the wider applicability of best practices across a range of sectors. It gave a preview of some new tools under development, such as the “Traditional and wild” online toolbox soon to be launched as part of a project aiming to support the preservation of the traditions of wild plant harvesting in Central Europe, and improve the contribution to rural livelihoods. Developed by TRAFFIC and WWF Hungary, the toolbox features the FairWild Standard and an array of information on wild plants, providing resources for those wishing to engage the public. 

The panel presentations were followed by audience discussion, covering a range of topics related to FairWild. Alongside questions on engaging consumers, Pukka Herbs were quizzed on their bottom line—whether the use of FairWild ingredients could be linked to any financial success. In fact, the tea featured in their consumer campaign had become one of the company’s fastest selling products. The increased sales had thus offset the higher costs of using FairWild ingredients, and raised £66,000 for WWF UK. 

The topic sparked a lively audience discussion on how to cover the costs of implementing FairWild on the ground. Participants shared information on how a mix of industry, government and charitable funding has been used to support investments in improving the sustainability of collection.

But for speakers at the event, it was ultimately not about sales and marketing. “It’s the story of our time,” said Pole. “It is something we all have to get involved with, to protect the ecosystem these ingredients are coming from.

“The FairWild story needs to be shared, and more people need to get on board.”

Spreading the message was something the FairWild Foundation representatives, partner organizations such as TRAFFIC, and Board members present at the fair actively encouraged, and anyone interested to learn more was invited to continue discussions over a cup of FairWild tea.

“Raising public awareness and educating consumers about wild plant collection is an important part of what we aim to achieve with the FairWild system,” said Bert-Jan Ottens, FairWild Foundation Board member responsible for communications and marketing. “It is great to see companies and industry groups preparing to take up this challenge.”


1. BioFach is the world’s largest organic trade fair. In 2014, about 42,000 trade buyers from 134 countries came to Nuremberg for BioFach’s 25th anniversary.

2. The FairWild Foundation and TRAFFIC representation at BioFach was kindly supported by WWF Germany and by the European Commission funded Environmental Governance Programme (EGP) “Engaging the private sector in sustainable management of medicinal plants—the multiplier effect”. The event "Communicating Sustainability" was supported by the ‘Traditional and wild’ project, implemented through the CENTRAL EUROPE Programme co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).