Name: Guayapi
Country: France
Active Since: 1990

Member of IFOAM – Organics International since 2003

Guayapi was founded by Claudie Ravel in 1990 after three years of feasibility studies in the Amazon rainforest with the Sateré Mawé tribe of how to build credible and fair value chains in marketing their products, starting with Waraná (original name of Guarana in Sateré Mawé language).

Claudie Ravel and Obadias Batista Garcia, the Warana Project leader in a region of the Sateré-Mawé © Guayapi

Claudie built a firm partnership and friendship with members of the Sateré Mawé tribe which prompted her to work with them on creating an exemplar fair-trade with Waraná as the company’s first commercialized product.

Waraná is a physical and intellectual energizer that became commercialized as a Superfood, which Claudie and her company introduced to Europe in 1990. When other South-American plants like Acerola, Técoma-Lapacho, Muirapuama, Açaï and Unha de Gato-Cat’s Claw were included in the products that the company imported and distributed, it was time for the name to change to Guayapi.

Decades later, Guayapi still selects the best raw materials from Amazonia and Sri Lanka, which it distributes in the form of super foods, cosmetics, food supplements and grocery products.

The Waraná fruit which was the first product Guayapi commercialized © Guayapi

With Guayapi having a strong interest in not only distributing superfoods, but also providing the people growing them in the Amazons access to remunerative and competitive prices, it showed that it was possible to work with indigenous groups and make fair and successful trading deals without cutting corners.

Guayapi progressively began to expand the variety of plants used, both in food supplements and cosmetic products, reaching a global range of 115 products within three families: superfoods / food Supplements, cosmetics and fine groceries. These products are distributed in a network of 3000 shops in France and Europe.

One of Guayapi’s products © Guayapi

Why Guayapi is unique!

 Guayapi imports and distributes wild-harvested plants from the Amazon and Sri Lanka according to three fundamental criteria:

  • they are organic,
  • they were grown in a way that boosts biodiversity
  • and they uphold the principles of fair trade.

“We at Guayapi believe that organic must be the basis of our food system and production. That is why it natural for us to become a member of IFOAM – Organics International, an organisation that propelled the organic agriculture movement and continues to advocate for organic worldwide”, shares Bastien BEAUFORT, General Manager of Guayapi.

Some of the actors of the Warana Project in the Sateré Mawé community © Guayapi

But beyond choosing organic, the company encourages the including of fair trade and biodiversity in the choices of other companies and organisations.

To comply with these principles, Guayapi actively works with or is a member of different institutions and associations that are experts on these topics, for instance, Commerce Equitable France (Fair-Trade France), Cosmebio, the International Analog Forestry Network (IAFN-RIFA), Green Peace and IFOAM France.

In order to preserve the priceless richness of the territories from which it draws its raw materials, Guayapi is actively involved in the Forest Garden Product Certification (F.G.P.) program, an international certification system which was created by Dr Ranil Senanayake, the first implementor of Analog Forestry which is a method of silviculture restoration that mimics the ecological function and architectural structure of mature ecosystems.

The FGP, whose standards are part of the IFOAM family of Standards, aims to meet the requirements of organic and fair-trade production and look beyond, to the rehabilitation of ecosystems and biodiversity, including fair trade criteria and indigenous people knowledge. Today, the FGP Certification is the only one, which guarantees organic products while respecting local populations and promoting the rehabilitation of ecosystems and biodiversity.

It is important for Guayapi that their producers like Kusuma Kitul here from Maussawa, Sri-Lanka, are properly compensated © Guayapi

 The intended goal!

 Guayapi aims to empower indigenous communities while restoring nature and valorising the plants from the indigenous lands mainly in economically disadvantaged places with high biodiversity (for instance, Amazonia, Sri Lanka, Peru, Paraguay and Ecuador). They do this by identifying the needs of indigenous peoples for the restoration of ecosystems by rehabilitating and enhancing their culture, know-how and traditional productions. In preserving indigenous culture, indigenous knowledge and plants are preserved as well!

Guayapi had difficulty marketing these superfoods in Europe in the beginning and the lack of a regulatory status for plants that have an effect on health and the physiology the body made it even harder to establish themselves. This is why with a lobbying group called the UPSNB (the Professional Union of Botanical and Nutraceutical Supplements), Claudie Ravel and Guayapi finally managed to register the regulatory status of these plants in 1997 which granted them access to European market.

Boosting biodiversity while empowering indigenous communities is vital in the world today © Guayapa

Unfortunately, today, thousands of traditional plants are still not authorized as food products in Europe because of the Novel Food regulation, which defends a reductionist and synthetical-chemical vision of plants and food products, without considering the anteriority of use worldwide and the holistic value of the Totum[1] of plants. This is an on-going challenge that Guayapi continues to look for ways to tackle, for instance, through education.

Education is at the core of Guayapi’s activities. They raise awareness among professionals and the general public on the importance of their values of organic, fair trade and biodiversity during many events they organize, for example, the Fair-Trade fortnight. In addition, they do advocacy work to take into account the application of the most demanding fair and environmental commitments, with the aim of redirecting wealth to rural populations through the recognition of photosynthetic biomass.

Parallel to this, Guayapi wants to continue raising awareness of the impact of climate change and biodiversity loss by encouraging policymakers to find holistic programs and solutions at international level to restore the life support systems of the planet. For this we must recognize the fundamental value of photosynthetic biomass and the role of indigenous people in it. Organic, Fair-Trade and Biodiversity economics are the best way of doing it!

[1]  Totum is the entire active part of the plant, for instance, the roots, leaves and branches

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