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The Good Spice moves to The Hague

Iona: “More taste, a fair price and healthy nature”

Improving the spice trade and making it more sustainable, that is the aim of The Good Spice. Through direct contact with farmers, with fair prices and without chemicals. This gives consumers the best taste, farmers a sustainable earning model and nature the chance to recover. The DOEN Foundation supports The Good Spice in its mission for sustainable and better sourced spices. Currently, The Good Spice works with eighteen farmers in India, Sri Lanka, Sicily and Hungary and has seven spices in its range.

The journey of spices

That the trade chain of tea, chocolate and coffee is often not pure coffee is something we are increasingly aware of through companies like Chocolatemaker and Wakuli. Less well known is that spices are in the same boat in terms of issues. And fair, sustainable alternatives are still hard to find on the Dutch market. Iona Mulder, founder of The Good Spice, wants to change that. Iona: ‘The regular spice trade consists of long chains in which often more than eight companies are involved. Together with low consumer prices, this results in many abuses within spice chains around the world. The weakest links suffer most from this: the farmer and nature.’

Mission-driven from the core

‘We spend a lot of money on development cooperation, while at the same time we import masses of products from countries we don’t pay a good price for.’ Iona, a cooking enthusiast with a background in history and human rights, cannot reconcile. When her friend brings her a piece of cinnamon on a trip, she tastes the layering and her interest in spices piques. She dives into the subject and founds The Good Spice. The company is ‘steward owned’, which means that it is not shareholders, but those directly involved (employees) who decide the course of action. In this way, it is not short-term profits but the company’s mission that is central.

Investing in the future

Each spice has its own story. ‘Turmeric is The Good Spice’s first spice. We looked for a variety with a high percentage of curcumin in it, known for its beneficial properties, which grows only in northeast India. Farmers here produce on a small scale without pesticides. In this region, The Good Spice is the first exporter. Many facilities for export are not available and we have to look elsewhere or initiate them ourselves. For instance, we are working with local governments to buy solar drying machines. These make farmers less dependent on the sun, shorten drying time and reduce the risk of mould. This cooperation and investment gives farmers more security for the future.’

An honest price tastes better

In Hungary, paprika is the national product, but the market there is suppressed by cheap imports from China. Hungarian farmers can only compete if they switch to very intensive farming and a cheap drying and grinding process. This comes at the expense of nature as well as taste. The Good Spice works with farmers who do not go along with this negative trend and pays them €24 per kilo of paprika instead of the world market price of €1.50 to €2. This allows the farmer to take better care of his land and work with more patience. You can taste the farmer’s craftsmanship and focus on quality. The spices are real taste explosions. To convey that flavour in the best possible way, The Good Spice strives for the shortest possible chain. By having direct contact and buying from the farmers, many middlemen who can influence the price and quality of the product are eliminated, because the spices are often on the road for years via long chains. The spices are dried in the country of origin and packaged in portions in The Netherlands and prepared for shipment at social enterprise Siza. Through this partnership, The Good Spice is proud to offer a tasty, sustainable, and social product.

“In our search for a sustainable spice trade, it is great to discover that there are people all over the world with like-minded thinking. People who also believe things can be done differently and with whom you can set up a nice cooperation. The financial contribution of The DOEN Foundation gives us the space to grow and, together with these people, make the spice trade fairer and more sustainable.”

Iona Mulder, founder of The Good Spice

The DOEN Foundation supports The Good Spice thanks to participants of the ‘Postcodeloterij’. You can find The Good Spice spices at local outlets or via the webshop:

The article was originally published in Dutch on the website of The DOEN Foundation.