In this edition of Organic & Wellness News we look at another third-party global ethical certification system, the Certified B Corporations label, where individual B Corps companies aspire to and meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability.

The B Corporations group says that B Corp is to business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee or USDA Organic certification is to milk.

"Today, there is a growing community of more than 2,100 Certified B Corps from 50 countries and over 130 industries working together toward one unifying goal: to redefine success in business," B Corporations says.

The Certified B Corporations label was set up by B Lab in 2006, a non-profit group based in Berwyn, Pennsylvania, USA. B Lab says, "it serves a global movement of people using business as a force for good with a vision that one day all companies compete not only to be the best in the world, but the best for the world and as a result society will enjoy a more shared and durable prosperity".

B Corporations also benchmark their performance against thousands of other businesses, see where their company outperforms other businesses and how to learn from them, understand their own B Impact Score in context and work to improve their score.

B Corp gives Fetzer Vineyards wines a sustainability boost

Sustainable, organic and bio-dynamic wine producer Fetzer Vineyards is the largest winery in the world to be named a Certified B Corp. Based in California, mainly in Mendocino County and producing around a dozen brands, Fetzer Vineyards will celebrate 50 years in the business of producing award-winning wines. Its Bonterra organic vineyards were named Winery of the Year by Wine Enthusiast magazine in 2016.

Fetzer Vineyards believes becoming a certified B Corp has been a valuable step as it works towards the wine producer's goal to restore, revitalize and regenerate ecosystems and communities, while producing sustainable growth for its business and shareholders.

"Completing the comprehensive B Impact Assessment illuminated our strengths and showed us specific business practices upon which we could improve, while providing a respected benchmark for bettering our performance, " says Rodrigo Maturana, VP Marketing for Fetzer Vineyards.

"When we initially became certified in 2015, we scored 80.5 out of 200 possible points, and when we recertified in 2017, our B Corp score increased by almost 15 points to 95.1, signifying tangible improvements in our social and environmental performance informed by the initial assessment.

"B Corp certification has also introduced our business to a global community of like-minded businesses and leaders, with whom we share successes, ideas and strategies for using business as a force for good."

In terms of B Corp Certification's reaction from consumers and trade suppliers, Fetzer Vineyards has noticed a terrific, positive reaction within the community, among the company's suppliers and in its distribution network, with Fetzer educating the industry on the meaning of the B-Corp certification and its rigorous, transparent assessment and the positive corporate values for which it stands.

Rodrigo says it has certainly reflected positively on the company’s reputation and further strengthened Fetzer Vineyards’ position as a sustainability leader among wineries.

"On the consumer side, we are integrating the B-Corp logo onto packaging for our flagship Fetzer wines and featuring B Corp in promotional campaigns to increase awareness of the certification among consumers," he says.

"Additionally, we recently launched a new 1.5-liter bag- in-box offering, Relay Wines, featuring B Corp certification prominently on packaging."

Sustainable components are incorporated into Fetzer's packaging wherever possible. For example, Fetzer and Antony's Hill brand labels are made from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper, while Bonterra Organic Vineyards labels are made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled material.

Becoming a B Corp helps being a 'force for good'

Multiple-award-winning Sydney, Australia organic wholesaler, organic online retailer and food supplier Honest To Goodness, which is operated by founders Matt and Karen Ward, says becoming a Certified B-Corporation in 2015 was an important and necessary step for the company as it was an official way to showcase its commitment to operating a sustainable and ethical business.

"It has also given us the opportunity to connect with like-minded companies who share thoughts and ideas about how we can all use business as a force for good in the world," Honest To Goodness (HTG) says.

"Our overall B Impact score is now 89.7, which was achieved in our re-certification last May 2017. This improved impact score put us in the top 10 per cent of B Corps who are making positive impact and behaviour change, and therefore had us honoured in the Best for the World: Changemakers list for 2017."

Whilst we are extremely proud of our improved score, our continual focus is not necessarily to gain more points on paper.

"Our focus and duty as a Certified B Corp lies simply in always making conscious business decisions, no matter how big or small. Being a sustainable business is an ongoing project, and we know that if we let our values drive our choices we will continue to make a positive impact on both people and the planet," says HTG.

"The Certified B Corp logo is stamped across our product packaging, website and collateral to help communicate to our community and our customers that we do use business to drive our company vision: to create a healthy, sustainable, better future."

HTG says that recent consumer surveys show that sustainability is of increasing concern, and B Corps are actively leading the way in terms of how to do business better for the world. "We aim to increase the education and awareness surrounding what B-Corp represents, not only to build trust in all of our relationships, but also in the hope that it encourages other companies to rethink their purpose and to keep this global movement growing," HTG says.

Honest to Goodness is certified by Australian Organic Ltd, which ensures that all of its organic products are sourced and handled under their strict guidelines and to a global standard, ensuring the organic integrity of all products remain intact. HTG also supports Fairtrade and is distributing Fairtrade coffee, chocolate and coconut products.

HTG was recently awarded ‘Favourite Organic Brand’, ‘Best Organic Wholesaler’ ‘Best Organic Online Store’ and runner up in ‘Organic Product of the Year’ in this year’s Organic Consumer Choice Awards (OCCA’s), the third year in a row that HTG has been voted Australia's most trusted and loved organic brand. The OCCA’s are organised annually by the Centre for Organic Research & Education (CORE) as part of National Organic Week, the only organic awards program decided by consumers.

GoodPop spreads the word on B Corp certification

Founded at the Austin, Texas Farmers Markets by Daniel Goetz in 2009, GoodPop All-Natural Frozen Pops were launched and today, GoodPop’s wholesome, mouth-watering frozen treats have become available at natural and specialty retailers in over 15-plus states across the Southwest, West Coast, Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountain regions of the United States.

GoodPop, a company with a social conscience and mission to do social good has partnered with countless non-profits and organizations. The company's overall B Impact Score is 94.

"However, we know there's always room for improvement and we'd love to get a higher score by our next assessment which has made us even more aware of our social and environmental performance, and how we can keep improving in all areas of our business," GoodPop says.

While the company sees the B Corp Certification as being somewhat unknown to consumers and suppliers, it has a way to go before seeing an impact in sales. GoodPop says it's doing its best to educate its consumers and suppliers on the importance of a B Corp certified company.

"We think it's important for them to know that B Corps go above and beyond the industry norm. Some of our current and potential retailers have taken notice which has certainly helped continue the conversation with them," GoodPop says.

GoodPop says it uses other global ethical certifications and its Banana Cinnamon, Chocolate Milk, and Coldbrew Coffee flavors have Fairtrade certification and the shelf-stable Organic Freezer Pops are Certified Organic.  "Our entire line carries the non-GMO certification and we always strive to source the best ingredients."

Take the B Impact Assessment

The first step in becoming a Certified B Corporation is taking the B Impact Assessment, which assesses the overall impact of your company on its stakeholders. Completing the assessment typically takes 2-4 hours. Once you've completed the assessment, you will receive a B Impact Report that contains an overall score. The B Impact Assessment is free of charge. The next step, getting certified costs between 500 and 50,000 USD depending on the size of the company, with renewal every two years. Want to give it a try? Go to www.bcorporation.net