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Ecover News

Date Published: 14-12-2021

As advocates of honest trading and only selling produce that is not detrimental to nature or the environment, Essential Trading have tough principles to abide by when considering products to wholesale.  We believe in trading transparency and this has awarded us with many loyal, long-term customers.  Indeed, information on all of our own products and those of the many reputable brands that we stock are meticulously labelled on the packaging, on our website and in our bi-monthly catalogue. 

Essential Trading are recognised as GMO-free wholesalers.  GMO-free trading is a policy that we’ve stuck by from the mid-1990s when GM food first arrived in the UK.  Together with other co-ops and like-minded traders, we actively lobbied the UK government to put controls on GM produce, including the introduction of laws to require clear labelling of all GMO-derived ingredients on all food products (human and animal).  All of our food and non-food products have inherently been 100% GMO-free and this is extremely important to the team who share a broad ethical base.  All suppliers are required to provide evidence of sourcing non-GM food products and ingredients.  All raw materials used in the manufacture of Essential’s own food producers are sourced from non GM suppliers, and no GMOs, proteins or DNA are used in the food production process as ingredients or processing aids.   

One of the largest non-food brands that Essential distributes is Ecover, a partnership that has lasted for 40 years.  As a much-respected brand with a long history of reducing their impact on the planet, Ecover have always informed us that they strive to be a GMO-free manufacturer.  An important exception is their products that contain enzymes - dishwasher tablets and laundry liquid.  Although these products themselves do not contain any GMOs, the enzymes are produced using GMOs. Ecover explained the fabrication process to us and we discontinued selling them as a result. 

We routinely audit our suppliers to ensure they still comply with our policies and standards, and for the first time Ecover have said they are unable to sign our warranty verifying they are GMO-free.  While they have told us they do not intentionally use GMO materials in their products, they are unable to guarantee there is no cross-contamination in their supply chain.

This has become a hindrance for Essential and resulted in a serious co-op debate on whether we should continue distributing Ecover.  After much deliberation, the co-op decided that we would continue to wholesale Ecover products.  Following some investigation into other similar wholesalers in our market, all those researched are continuing to sell Ecover products.  We are disappointed to learn that Ecover no longer abide by their aforementioned practise although we appreciate their efforts in this area and we do hope that they will review this going forwards.

Of most importance, Essential will NEVER trade any food that contains GMO-derived food ingredients.  This is based on signed GMO free warranty statements that we require from every supplier.  We would never take on partnerships with new brands on the market that use genetically modified organisms. 

The co-op has decided to review our GMO policy, as follows,

  • Remove GMO-free requirement for non-foods from statement and add option on warranty for suppliers to select whether the product “contains GMOs”, “may contain GMOs”, or “GMO-free”.
  • Clearly mark any non-food products suppliers won’t guarantee GMO-free on website/pricelist
  • Not actively look for new lines that may contain GMOs

The Ecover issue is unique within our product wholesale range and we are thinking of our customers who use the brand with confidence and would like us to continue selling it. For those customers who are not comfortable with the approach of Ecover, however, we carry a wide range of other household products from suppliers such as Bio-D, Ecoleaf, Faith in Nature or Sodasan.