Forests of the World helps producers around the world to
market, import, and sell their products. We are frequently contacted
by producers who are interested in help distributing their products,
but Forests of the World can only work with producers who meet all of
our selection criteria (below).
If you are a producer who needs help with some aspects of your
business, it's possible that the non-profit Forest
Foundation (see below) can provide help.
Forests of the World producers must meet the following criteria:
- First, products must be made both in an environmentally
sustainable manner and under the provisions of fair trade.
The collection of raw materials and manufacturing of products cannot
harm the environment or create pollution. Materials must be
sustainably managed using resource management plans that assure they
will be available for future generations to use. Products also must
be manufactured under fair labor conditions as described by the Fair Trade Federation
and their web site.
- Second, products must come from regions of high
biodiversity. We look for artisans and producer groups who live in
and around reserves, protected areas, or natural areas of high
biodiversity with unique or endemic plant and animal communities.
- Third, producers and artisans living in these areas must be in
liaison or working with a non-governmental organization (NGO) that is
assisting in community conservation, education, or sustainable
development. This is critical for the proper management of natural
resources and the long-term viability of the project.
How we work with our partners
We work directly with artisans, producer groups, and NGO's in market
access and product development. To begin working with any group that
fits the above criteria, we have the following protocol.
We first request:
- photos of products for review;
- a price list, with production capacity and volume discounts;
- samples with proper codes;
- pictures of producers and the community; and
- a description of the organization or artisan.
With this, we will be able to create temporary sales sheets,
hangtags, or web site information. We request that new samples be
sent several weeks prior to our trade show cycles, which are
January-February and July-August.
Market Acceptance Testing
Next, we will take these samples to trade shows to determine
retailers' interest and willingness to pay for the products.
Sometimes we will ask for producers to help pay for space at trade
shows by giving us samples and paying the cost of shipping them; If
the product sells, we will pay for the samples. Samples can also be
shown in retail environments to get additional feedback from the
If Products Sell
If products do sell, we will place orders for products based on
samples sent, usually only enough to cover orders, additional samples
for representatives, and some inventory. Additional orders will come
prior to or after trade shows.
It is essential that producers fill orders quickly and consistently
and with excellent quality control. This helps build the demand for
the goods. There are crucial time windows for delivering and
Eventually, as demand grows for the product, we may place our own
orders to build our inventory.
If Products Don't Sell Immediately
Often it's the case that the wholesale margins on a product line would
be too small for us to market it, or the products may require some
additional design work.
If this is the case, and if we feel the producer or artisan may
benefit from selling directly to retailers, we may sub-lease space in
our booth at the many trade shows in which we participate each year.
Artisans will be asked to pay for a portion of our booth space based
on square footage used and trade show costs (including fees for
electrical and some marketing overhead).
We can help the artisan get exposure and experience, including
exposure to the hundreds of customers who come to visit our booth.
There are also training programs in which producers may participate
while here in the States.
We may also offer to distribute the product (shipping and receiving
payment) based on a commission of 5-30%. This is less involved than
when we fulfil the role of a full-fledged importer, but is still
helpful to some producers.
The Forest Foundation
If the products are not ready for markets or do not sell well, we will
likely ask The Forest Foundation (which is non-profit) to help the
artisan or producer group get "up to speed" for US markets.
The Foundation offers these services for green business development:
- green business management training;
- product design and development;
- market access and importation sssistance;
- sustainability studies;