The Sexy in Powerbars

Restore

Blog Post #5

Yesenia Gomez

Economic side of Consumption- Powerbars

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The Sexy in Powerbars

The Restore can be described as PLNU’s very own mini-market. Students are constantly in and out of this venue. I was able to talk with Irene Alvarado, Manager of the Restore, about the best-selling products. The Powerbar was one of the top 2 selling products in the Restore. Most people would agree that the energy bars are quite expensive but the satisfaction one receives from eating a filling, healthy bar is better than a bag of chips. The benefits of the taste and nutritional gains have obviously outweighed the financial costs. As a school, we have proved it by making energy bars one of our top 2 selling products.

Since 2004, energy bars have made steady gains even with the relatively high prices on the energy bars. In 2011, Food Management wrote an article titled Food Bars Growing Fast; Packaged Facts reported that the retail market was $5.7 million dollars in cereal and energy bars.

Energy bars, such as Powerbar, have expanded their markets from the sports nutritional market to recreational and life-style users. A 2010 Market analysis report from the International Market Bureau says that niche markets in sports nutrition are selling products in grocery stores and market outlets; they are no longer just seen at nutritional or sports stores. Sport nutrition markets are using new ingredients in new products to incorporate different target markets. The general American population has athletes, recreational users, and life-style users. The consumption of each of the groups has a different intention and purpose of purchase. Just like the general population, PLNU is a small sub-scale of the energy bar consumption; there are students, faculty, and staff that engage in different sub-categories of exercise.

According to the International Market Bureau, there are 3 specific trends seen in the consumption of energy bars. First, Powerbars have included innovative ingredients such as protein and nutritional boosts like energy; this attracts the athletic population. Second, appearance and fitness concerns have become more openly common. Third, the accessibility of these bars has grown; they are in mini-markets like the Restore and supermarkets like Walmart. The last two trends attract the general population.

The United States has become the biggest consumer for sports-related products. In the global market, it is estimated to consume two-thirds of both the value of retail transactions and volume sales. Consumer behavior has pushed sports nutrition markets to make a variety of energy bars with new specific flavors and purposes. This is why Powerbar has a total of 37 bars in 8 specific categories. Taste is a significant factor and ingredients like cocoa and whey or soy protein can manipulate whether consumers will continue to purchase bars.

Nestle, owner of Powerbar, has easily outstripped cocoa supply from plantations in the Ivory Coast. Corporations like Nestle know the value of cocoa; they know it can be transformed into a great tasting bar with high demand. The problem is cocoa farmers are not receiving a fair share of the end product being sold. Percival’s article, From bean to bar: Why chocolate will never taste the same again, discusses the problem with local community farmers being at the bottom of a multi-layered supply chain. The cocoa-nomics do not allow these farmers to economically benefit from what has become an increasingly demanded market in the United States.

This means that either Powerbar comes up with a new supplement to replace cocoa or they change the way their supply chain is currently operating. If they choose to keep cocoa, they need to be paying farmers a fair amount of the profits gained. This also means better working conditions and the stop to child labor. If they do not choose to keep cocoa, they will lose a large number of consumers, and it would not be the same product anymore.

We know that energy bars have become increasingly popular and trendy. Is it more important to the consumer to buy trendy food items? Are consumers that shallow? Is it our duty to investigate where the ingredients of a Powerbar come from? Are corporations like Nestle using our own consumer behavior for their own economic benefit?

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The Sexy in Powerbars

Nestle’s Marketing Strategies

Restore

Blog Post #3

Yesenia Gomez

Economic side of Distribution- Powerbars

Nestle’s Marketing Strategies

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Recently, Nestle has broadened its marketing strategy by working as a franchise machine across the world. It is a global multinational corporation that exists within local communities. Nestle brands everything locally and works regionally. Most of its plantations are abroad while corporations are in the US and Europe. They have a global approach in technology and are very advanced in the way it enters new markets. Rapoport’s article, Nestle’s Brand Building Machine, calls Nestle the modern day “Roman Empire School of Marketing” for its tactic in settling in, colonizing as much territory as possible, adapting to the new land, and keeping away competition that trying to intervene for resources.

Nestlé’s business approach consists of traveling across open markets to discover new markets. Its persistence in entering markets in China has led it to reach a leading role as a food company in China and Vietnam. Nestle has already branded many products and resources in Mexico, Brazil, Chile, and Thailand. Nestlé is considered one of the most powerful food companies in the global economy. There is a give and take with the companies it makes business with. For example, Rumble the Jungle explains the extraction of palm oil in Indonesia is hurting the local communities. Yet, the Indonesian government benefits from the income gained from the extraction of palm oil; it goes towards the corrupt elite. Why?
Well, when every metric ton in Indonesia forests are priced at $900 and there is an annual 24 billion dollars made from exporting palm oil from Indonesia…it is tempting for those who want more money and power.

Nestle does not always buy directly from “damaging” markets. It is careful about its reputation. It has been humiliated and media-bombed for its engagement in labor exploitation and destruction of natural environment resources in the past. For example, farmer’s beans are bought by other middlemen which later exports goods to Nestle. The supply chain goes through a series of distributors and as the cocoa or coffee beans gain market value, it is too late for the primary farmers to receive their proper share. They are forgotten and left at the bottom of the value chain. Farmers are left with little to nothing.

Rapoport, C. (1994). Nestlé’s brand building machine. Fortune,130147.

Gilbert, D. (2013). Rumble in the jungle. Earth Island Journal, 27(4), 40-45.

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Sustainable Business Practices

Restore

Blog Post #10

Kelsey Werner

Social side of Distribution- Guayaki

Fair trade, living wages, packaging made from recycled products, subtracting carbon emissions, no harmful synthetic agents, salvaged or recycled waste, bio-diesel, and 100% renewable energy. Sound too good to be true? Well, it isn’t. Welcome to Guayaki.

As stated on their website:

In 2009, Guayakí became the first Fair Trade Certified yerba mate supplier in the world through IMO’s Social & FairTrade Certification Programme – “Fair for Life”.  “Fair for Life” combines strict social and fair trade standards with adaptability to local conditions. The Certification guarantees that human rights are guaranteed at any stage of production, so that workers enjoy good and fair working conditions and that smallholder farmers receive a fair share. Fair trade improves the livelihood of thousands of smallholder farmers and workers by providing the means for social community projects and empowerment of people.

Guayakí is also a member of the Fair Trade Federation and guarantees living wages to the artisans who make our gourd and bombillas. Instead of purchasing gourds and bombilla from commercial factories, we employ Argentine artists who work from their home studios so they can spend more time with their families and create truly one of a kind pieces of art. At Guayaki, it’s not just about making a tasty cup of mate, it’s about meaningful work.

Our packaging material is a minimum of 100% recycled corrugated cardboard with 30% post consumer, although most are 100% post-consumer waste. Our packaging peanuts are made of plant based materials (dissolve in water) or salvaged and cleaned from other companies that we collect from inbound materials. Our plastic pallet wrap is recyclable. Our bottle shipper cases are completely recyclable, non-petroleum based, and made of 100% post consumer recycled corrugated board. This is a first in the industry – we are proud to say we pioneered these new boxes!  The paper used for inserts, invoices, brochures, etc is always made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper.

All invoices, flyers, brochures and other paper materials printed for our customers and vendors are 100% recycled post consumer waste material or the highest post consumer content available. We will never use virgin paper materials in anything we print for our business.  In our offices, we recycle, reuse, and reduce as a daily practice.  We use real dishes and cups (and gourds) and wash them instead of using paper or plastic.

Guayakí third party life cycle analysis shows that after growing the yerba mate, and adding up all of the carbon emissions, guayakí is subtracting carbon from the environment. For example, your purchase of one pound of loose guayakí yerba mate reduces atmospheric co2 by 573g.

Our mate tea box packaging material is recycled paperboard with 35% minimum post consumer, and printed with vegetable inks.  We package our bulk loose mate products and bulk tea bags in cutting-edge biodegradable and compostable bags made from tree pulp cellulose from sustainably maintained forests. They will compost in your home compost or landfill in 180 days. The packaging material is made from renewable, non G.M.O. wood-pulp sourced from plantations employing Sustainable Forestry Management Principles, who conform to the environmental standard I.S.O. 14,000 and have either achieved or are working towards F.S.C.

Guayakí does not use, nor allow within its facility, chemical cleaning agents, bleaches, synthetic and chemical based soaps, ammonia, chlorine, dioxide, commercial pest repellents, fumigants, or other synthetic agents which are harmful to ourselves and the environment. Pest management practices include the use of sticky traps. We do not fumigate nor do we use chemical killing agents. All cleaning products used within our facilities are 100% natural, bio-degradable and are approved for use within certified organic facilities. The primary industrial cleaning agents we use is TKO Orange Oil which is completely biodegradable, approved by the EPA and our organic certifiers.

Virtually all waste generated by Guayakí is either recycled or salvaged. All office paper, scrap paper, cardboard, cans, bottles, plastic, steel, and wood is salvaged and recycled. We also recycle all electronic and computer components which are no longer in working condition by taking them to a local facility for proper salvage, reclamation or disposal, thus preventing several known heavy metal sources from being land-filled. A few times a year, we even reuse our mate after it’s brewed for the bottles to use it as energizing compost for our gardens around our main office.

Our marketing cargo vehicles run on bio-diesel! This further outlines our commitment to environmental sustainability and lessening our impact on global warming.

Guayakí is proud to have converted its entire operation to 100% renewable energy by transferring all of its conventional electrical power usage to renewable solar energy. We offset over 55 tons of our corporate CO2 footprint … locally. In tandem with this commitment, we have purchased enough solar power to offset the carbon 1 energy market in a similar way the purchase of a Guayakí product helps drive more reforestation.

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Guayaki is making outstanding efforts in order to protect the environment and all people who are affected by its product. It is rare to hear of a company doing this much. It gives me a bit of hope that this sort of business model is possible and also successful. I believe in what Guayaki is stands for. They walk their talk and carry out their mission of restoration all along their supply chain.

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Market Driven Restoration

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Blog Post #12

Kelsey Werner

Social side of Consumption- Guayaki

Waylon Lewis is an editor for the Huffington Post who writes monthly articles about various ‘green companies’. He seems to be quite pessimistic about these small businesses, believing that after only a few years of operation they will sell out to ‘the man’. They will then lose their specialness as the large corporations trade quality for cheap ingredients and bottom lines. However, according to him, Guayaki Yerba Mate is different.

Lewis sat down for an interview with two of the founders of this company (Alex Pryor and David Karr) and gave this report:

“In short, Guayaki is healing our earth through business. Not fruity, unprofitable, airy-fairy business that’ll never make it. Rather, Guayaki represents a new paradigm: the better their business does, the more nature heals. Here’s how it works: mate (pronounced mah-tay) is shade-grown. In Paraguay, only 7% of the Rainforest remains (called the earth’s lungs, the rainforest absorbs carbon emissions and cools our planet, cleans the air we breathe, and provides habitat for a remarkable diversity of tribes, wildlife, and healing plants). Whenever you buy Guayaki mate, it’s grown in the forest. (Beware: many other mate companies are not shade-grown). Shade-grown products monetize the forest, thus protecting it from the bulldozer and the torch.

When you drink Guayakí, you’re helping to preserve the forest. It’s that simple. You’re helping to create jobs down there, so that natives don’t have to give up their traditional way of life and move to the city, where things often go downhill for them, fast. And a shade-grown plant like yerba mate allows the communities and farmers to earn fair-trade income without selling the precious land for destructive mono-crop agriculture (soy milk, anyone?). In other words, Guayakí creates markets for rainforest-grown yerba mate that provides a long-term sustainable economic alternative to rampant deforestation for lumber, cattle grazing, and monocrop agriculture” (Lewis).

Guayaki Yerba Mate has been able to capitalize off of the responsible consumption trend. “The natural products, eco, fair-trade marketplace is fundamentally different that other markets: it’s about changing the world for the better. That’s why consumers will pay something extra. It’s about being responsible for our products from beginning to end, from farm to table. It’s about the notion that we, as businesspeople and conscious consumers alike can live a good life, make good money, and at the same time do so in a way that’s of benefit to others, not at the expense of others” (Lewis). They are able to empower consumers to really make a difference with their purchases. This restorative model brings about sustainability and generates life.

Lewis believes that this company has the potential to become “the next great green fad. Its potential for market growth is enormous, and largely unrealized” (Lewis). It is a market solution that is shifting from a specialty product to the mass market. Guayaki Yerba Mate gives back to both the environment and the locals. “To date, the company says it has restored 20,000 acres of forest. As part of the Clinton Global Initiative, it committed to restore 40,000 acres of the Atlantic Rainforest in southern Brazil and create living wage jobs for 250 families in the area’s indigenous Marrecas community” (Tozzi). Guayaki brings an economic alternative where the consumer’s purchase literally drives this restoration. They balance economic, social, and environmental goals. Guayaki is proving that it can be profitable to restore communities and the environment (Tozzi). They deliver on their promises and truly walk their talk. “In this day and age of “conscious consumerism,” they’re poised to become everyone’s favorite company” (Lewis).

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Market Driven Restoration

Lewis, Waylon. (2010). Saving Our Rainforests: Just a Sip Away? Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/waylon-lewis/saving-our-rainforests-ju_b_414167.html.

Tozzi, John. (2010). Guayaki Wants to Take Yerba Mate from Niche to 7-Eleven Staple. Bloomberg News. Retrieved from http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-09-29/guayaki-wants-to-take-yerba-mate-from-niche-to-7-eleven-staple.html.

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Market Driven Restoration

How a History of Exploitation has turned into a Sustainable Industry

Restore

Blog Post #8

Kelsey Werner

Social side of Production- Guayaki

Yerba mate has been a part of South American culture for many centuries. It is a communal ‘Drink of the Gods’ that is deeply rooted in the tradition of many people groups. The Misiones region in Argentina is one of the largest producers of yerba mate, which comes from the leaves of this medium sized tree. It was native to this area and grown small scale for consumption by the local people. However, when Europeans arrived in the Americas in the 15th century, they brought with them some drastic changes. Jesuit priests who established religions missions in the area observed the local Guarani people consuming this beverage. They learned about its nutritious and energizing properties and quickly adopted its use. The colonialists greatly increased the demand for this product. The yerba mate plant was domesticated in the 18th century and plantations were established not long after. Yerba mate turned into a lucrative business that exploited the land and the local people.

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Yerba Mate Plant

 

Unsustainable growing practices have led to the degradation of the environment. The typical commercial way of cultivating yerba mate necessitates direct sunshine in order to grow the plants faster. Acres and acres of the rainforest have been chopped down for yerba mate and other cash crops. Inadequate soil management practices and continuous monoculture has led to soil erosion and degradation. The decreasing yields have led to even more rainforest land being cleared in order to find and use soil that has not yet been stripped of its nutrients. The already fragile rainforest ecosystem is being destroyed.

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Soil Erosion in a Conventional Yerba Mate Plantation

 

Small-scale farmers became increasingly marginalized throughout this history. However, in response to this “small and medium-sized yerba mate farmers initiated a series of social movements in order to revitalize declining livelihoods in the 1990s. With the ten largest companies controlling 80% of yerba mate production in Misiones, small and medium-sized farmers began to organize into cooperatives. As cooperatives promoted an ethic of solidarity, integrity, and equality, combined with an institutional structure and economic power within the yerba mate market, cooperatives began to find their voice within the political economy of yerba mate” (Montagnini 62).

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Yerba Mate Harvesters

 

Many cooperatives have been able to transform production practices into ones that help preserve the environment and empower the local people. They began to use more sustainable growing methods that do not involve destroying the rainforest. Many farmers have begun to implement shade-grown and intercropping practices. These agroforestry techniques have served to be “a useful tool to rehabilitate land degraded by intensive agriculture. Agroforestry systems (SFS) can minimize erosion, reduce or eliminate the uses of fertilizers due to increased nutrient cycling or the use of nitrogen fixing trees, reduce or eliminate the use of agrochemicals due to weed suppression and/or pest management, and provide additional income to the farmer through diversification of products” (Montagnini 63). In addition to the environmental benefits, there have also been many social benefits. These cooperatives have led to more jobs, better working conditions, and higher wages.

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Shade-Grown Coffee Plants

 

Guayaki is an organic, fair-trade Yerba Mate company that gets its product from these local cooperatives. They focus on quality instead of quantity and ensure that the mate is grown sustainably for the environment and the local people. They partner with farmers to train, advise, and support them. They then will buy their product if the farmers agree to continue their conservation efforts. Guayaki helps promote preservation and restoration of the land and the people. It has been a positive step towards transforming an exploitative industry into a sustainable one.

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Guayaki Products

 

Organic Yerba Mate

Montagnini, Florencia, Eibl, Beatriz I., and Barth, Sara R. (2011). Organic yerba mate: an environmentally, socially and financially suitable agroforestry system. Bois et Forets des Tropiques, 308 (2), 59-74.

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How a History of Exploitation has turned into a Sustainable Industry

How much Power do you give the Powerbar?

Restore

Blog Post #6

Yesenia Gomez

Social side of Consumption- Powerbars

How much Power do you give the Powerbar?

Powerbars are associated with athletes and in many cases people will even substitute an energy bar as a “healthy” meal option. Powerbars attract a large target market especially with all the specific types of bars it offers. To narrow it down, college-students and professors are among some of the biggest consumers of energy bars. They live fast-paced lives and are always on the go! When left with little time to eat, it can be easy to get a filling Powerbar. These small, packaged energy bars are easy to stuff in a backpack or purse. They are highly marketable and trendy especially when associated with personal health and exercise.

How much power do you have as a consumer over the purchase of a Powerbar? There are pitfalls and benefits to consumption in the social aspect. The consumer can end up being all about the product to the point of one of Karl Marx’s terms “commodity fetishism”. This will not necessarily happen with a Powerbar, but it can become a necessity. Consumption can separate the relationship between the consumer and laborer, or it could also create bondage.

Powerbars contain cocoa along with many other ingredients. The CNN Freedom Project highlights in their article From bean to bar: Why chocolate will never taste the same again how laborers in the village of Kouadio-Yaokro are a perfect example of the separation of laborer and consumer. Many Kouadio-Yaokro villagers do not know the cocoa they pick will be made into a Powerbar; many consumers do not know of the hands that picked the cocoa pods.

There are a variety of cases showing the separation of consumer and laborer; for instance, Nestle the owner of Powerbar has for many years dismissed the child labor in cocoa plantations. Also, many villagers picking the cocoa themselves have never tasted a piece of chocolate from Nestle products. A village elder was surprised by the sweetness of the bar in this video.Image

On the other hand, there could be bondage in consumption. Nestle has chosen to listen to the Fair Labor Association by turning the tables and eradicating child labor for the long-term. Nestle has claimed that they will work with The World Cocoa Foundation and the International Cocoa Initiative to raise awareness about the importance of education and government polices in rural communities.

You could give power to the Powerbar to change its supplier code and stick to its responsible sourcing guidelines, or you could give it power to keep harming rural communities.

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How much Power do you give the Powerbar?

You pay $2.39 for a Powerbar. How much does the laborer get from your pocket?

Restore

Blog Post #1

Yesenia Gomez

Economic side of Production- Powerbars

You pay $2.39 for a Powerbar. How much does the laborer get from your pocket?

Child Labor and Nestle videoImage

It’s  a long Tuesday.

There is no time for the Cafeteria. The next best option is the Restore. Let’s see…something quick, filling, healthy, and tasty. There it is—the Powerbar.
You pay $2.39. The price does not even matter at that point.
However, does the price matter somewhere else or to someone else?

How much does the laborer get paid to open cacao pods all day with a machete in the Ivory Coast? How do they combat their opposition for forest clearings due to palm oil exports? How can they see their children and tell them they barely make ends meet?

Many of the ingredients and resources needed to produce a Powerbar are found in countries “abundant” in cacao, soy, palm oil and sugar. In many ways, the excessive use and exploitation of laborers affects the economic stability of a community and the global economy.

Nestle, one of the biggest multinational chocolate producers and owner of Powerbar, recently agreed to let the Fair Labor Association (FLA) trace and assess their cocoa supply chain. More than a third of the cocoa around the world comes from the Ivory Coast in West Africa; yet, many of the laborers in the Ivory Coast live in poverty. There are local Ivory Coast individuals like Jean in From bean to bar: Why chocolate will never taste the same again who inherit land but gain little to no profit from it. Some of the poorest rural regions have these coffee and cocoa plantations, but they are easily exploited. The growers are positioned at the bottom of the cocoa value chain. Therefore, workers only see a small proportion of the profit gained from Nestle’s supply of bars containing chocolate. The local governments and nation-state politicians know the troubles with implementing higher working standards for cocoa workers. In this video, Quest talks with Prime Minister Daniel Duncan about the income of cocoa farmers in the Ivory Coast. In addition, take into consideration that the annual GDP per capita in the Ivory Coast is a little over $1,000. How is it that the GDP per capita is so low in a place where cocoa holds up 3.5 million people?

Farmers prefer to hire children since they cannot afford to pay adults. However, Nestle is slowly recognizing its power and position in positively impacting the lives of workers in cocoa plantations. Nestlé’s article, Nestle Action Plan on the Responsible Sourcing of Cocoa from Cote d’Ivoire shares the 11 recommendations the FLA believes will eradicate child labor from the cocoa supply. Nestle believes this will produce greater returns.

Nestle’s Responsible Sourcing Guideline has approached ways to implement international standards to their supplier code. On the other hand, there are still products in the Powerbar other than cocoa that need more in depth investigation. For example, there is the still questioning of where Nestlé’s palm oil comes from. The cheapest vegetable oil is palm oil, and it is even considered “green”. Nestle has been publicly humiliated for its consumption of palm oil. Although Nestle reports that it has stopped purchasing from Indonesian palm oil growers or any other damaging markets, it still acquires palm oil from private markets. Rumble in the Jungle uncovers Nestle’s purchasing of palm oil tanks from Rotterdam’s spot market. Rotterdam does not report an origin of its palm oil; they claim to be untraceable. It is that easy for Nestle to remove its bad reputation. As long as it is not directly connected to damaging markets, it can claim “blissful ignorance”. This is just a touch of make-up for Nestle. The demand for palm oil is high, so Nestle continues to purchase from third-party suppliers.

The production of Powerbars in the economic realm is questionable. There is enough evidence to support that laborers are receiving the bare minimum or nothing at all due to their little or no bargaining power.

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You pay $2.39 for a Powerbar. How much does the laborer get from your pocket?