Our suppliers: Visits to South Africa, Zimbabwe and France

Thursday 17 December 2015

Our Founder, Mike Brook, has been visiting farms and suppliers in South Africa and Zimbabwe, as well as a pit stop in France earlier this month. You can read more about his trips, here.


Last month our Founder Mike Brook travelled to South Africa and Zimbabwe to meet with suppliers who provide us with products including rooibos, baobab and rosehip oil. He was also invited to speak at the 2015 National Natural Ingredients Conference in Pretoria, an event led by the Department of Trade & Industry which focuses on international expectations of the South African natural ingredients market, as well as looking at bioprospecting, access and benefits-sharing regulations, such as the Nagoya Protocol (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nagoya_Protocol). This was a great opportunity for Mike to talk about his views from a buyer’s perspective, and to meet with other buyers and suppliers and share stories. 

Rooibos (or redbush) tea continues to be an increasingly popular herbal tea option, which claims many health benefits as well as being entirely caffeine free and low in tannins. Rooibos is unique in its methods of being processed, going through a semi-fermentation process before being dried, and is grown almost exclusively in mountainous areas of the Western Cape province of South Africa.  Mike visited the Fairtrade-certified co-operative from which we currently buy our rooibos, as well as investigating the potential for wild collection from an enterprising farmer whose 1,000ha consists largely of sand, rock and tough indigenous plants.  Being able to spend time with our suppliers on their farms and processing plants is an important part of our sourcing activities, and working closely with them gives us the ability to ensure we’re securing the best possible quality product. 

There are other farms and suppliers that we work with in South Africa who are making strides in propagation methods and biodynamic farming, and they provide us with a great opportunity to source high quality product taking advantage of their Southern Hemisphere seasons.

Back in the Northern Hemisphere, Mike and our International Accounts Manager Sarah Beasley-Stones attended the Food Ingredients Europe trade show earlier this month - a gathering of the global food ingredients industry, in Paris. With visitors from more than 110 countries and over 1400 exhibitors, the show is a great opportunity for us to spend time with existing customers, meet prospective new customers and to learn more about the latest industry trends and innovations.