Lush: a Fair-trade Future

The policy of natural cosmetics brand Lush has always been, “If you’re not going to trade fairly, then what’s the point?” For many years, it has had a policy of trying to eliminate the middlemen wherever possible and going straight to the growers and processors in order to learn the true story of each ingredient. Lush buys some fair-trade certified ingredients, and is also involved in setting up more fair-trade projects directly with the communities.

Lush’s Fair Trade Foot Lotion, the first of the brand’s products to be Fairtrade Foundation certified, has always used fair-trade cocoa butter in this product, but the new category allows it to formalize its support for fair-trade. The cocoa butter used in Lush products is sourced from the Dominican Republic-based National Confederation of Dominican Cacao Producers (CONACADO) since 2007. CONACADO is a cooperative formed in 1988 to help its members secure a fair wage for their produce. It encompasses approximately 25% of the Dominican small scale cocoa farmers with around 10,000 members. The cooperative provides approximately 10,000 ton of cocoa to the marketplace, of which 85% is organic and 50% is fair-trade. In addition, 150 farmers have become biodynamic. By forming a co-op, farmers are able to collectively sell their beans and butter directly to the export market and have greater control of their livelihoods and collective businesses. They gained their fair-trade certification in 1995, which has guaranteed a minimum price equal to or above market level and an additional fair-trade premium.

Lush’s purchases from CONACADO have increased from 10 tons in the first year (2007) to almost 17 tons in 2008 as a result of the increase in products for which there is a viable use for cocoa butter. The hard texture, emulsifying effect and skin-softening qualities of cocoa butter are useful properties in a number of product formats—including solid lotions, bath melts, conditioner and herbal hair color.