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Alter Eco refers to two alternative trading organizations, founded in 1998 by Tristan Lecomte in France, and followed by Mathieu Senard and Eduoard Rollet in the United States, and Ilse Keijzer in Australia.
Alter Eco France
Alter Eco France specializes in fair trade and responsible food products. The organization is part of the fair trade movement and offers its products in several French mass retailers such as Monoprix, Cora, Match, Système U, E.Leclerc and Carrefour. As of 2007[update], there are over 100 Alter Eco Fair Trade products on the market, sourced from 42 cooperatives in 37 countries. Some Alter Eco Fair Trade products include coffee, tea, rice, sugar, quinoa, chocolate, olive oil, juice and cotton balls.
In 2006, Alter Eco France approached Brazilian retailers to sell Brazilian products in the country under Fair Trade terms, creating the first South-South Fair Trade experiment. In Europe, all Alter Eco products are FLO-CERT certified and bear the International Fairtrade Certification Mark.
Alter Eco United States, Canada and Australia
In 2005, Alter Eco expanded into the United States and Canadian markets. Headquartered in San Francisco, Alter Eco's mission is to pioneer a full circle approach to eating, farming and doing business, and to inspire others to do the same. Headquartered in Melbourne, Alter Eco Australia is part of the larger Alter Eco US company. Alter Eco US acquired Alter Eco Australia in 2015.
Alter Eco sells chocolate and chocolate-centric snack products. This includes a line of chocolate bars, chocolate truffles, and dark chocolate coconut clusters that are all fair trade and organic.
Alter Eco has a full circle sustainability approach to their business. The four tenets of this approach are to 1. Choose Clean Ingredients, 2. Invest in Farmers, 3. Regenerate the Earth, and 4. Eliminate Waste.
Alter Eco in the US and Canada was started in 2003 by Mathieu Senard and Edouard Rollet. Mathieu and Edouard started the North America company in order to address social issues they were seeing in the food space. The first products began to be sold in 2005. The company was started in San Francisco and is still based there.
Alter Eco in North America acquired Alter Eco Pacific in 2015. Alter Eco Pacific was originally started by Ilse Keijzer in 2005 and is based in Melbourne, Australia. It supplies product throughout Australia and New Zealand.
Awards and recognition
In 2016, the company was awarded Delivious Living magazine’s Best Bite Aware for the Best Chocolate Bar for its 85% cacao Dark Blackout bar. The company also received the NEXT Award in this year for Best Packaging for its compostable quinoa pouch.
In 2017, the company was put on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing private companies for 2017. At the time, the company had a 198% three year growth with revenues of $20 million.
In 2018, the company was awarded Delicious Living magazine’s Best Bite Award for Best Sweet Snack with its Cherry and Almond Butter Coconut Clusters. It was also awarded the Climate Collaborative Outsanding Company award in this year.
Acquisition and rebranding
The company rebranded in 2017, updating its logo and packaging, and switching to a new motto—Enlightened Indulgence. The motto reflects the company’s desire to spread responsibly sourced products through its chocolate product line. Alter Eco was also acquired by NextWorld Evergreen, a San Francisco-based private equity firm focused on purpose driven brands, in December 2017. In October 2018, Mike Forbes was named CEO of the company. Mathieu and Edouard remained as co-founders of the company.
Alter Eco produces a line of chocolate and chocolate-centric products. The company did used to source and sell coffee, tea, rice, olive oil and hearts of palm as part of their original push to spread fair trade products. The company has since evolved to focus their products around chocolate and quinoa because of the better opportunities for a growing company to focus on one main supply versus a line of different goods.
The company produces a line of chocolate bars and chocolate truffles that are organic, non-GMO, fair trade, and some are vegan. The chocolate is manufactured in Switzerland. The chocolate bars come in 10 flavors from Brown Butter to Super Blackout, that is 90% cacao. The truffles come in five flavors: Classic Dark, Sea Salt, Salted Caramel, Mint Crème, and Silk Velvet.
In 2018, Alter Eco entered the snacking category with its Coconut Cluster products, available in the Original flavor, Seeds and Salt, and Cherry and Almond Butter. The products were launched at the 2018 Natural Products Expo and were one of the VegNews’ best new vegan products.
Full circle sustainability
The company’s missions is to pioneer a full circle approach to eating, farming and doing business—and to inspire others to do the same. In 2016, the company began publishing a Social Impact Report. The company has a four pronged approach to sustainability:
- Choose clean ingredients
Alter Eco sources only organic and non-gmo products and works with its farmers to transition their cultivation to more sustainable and cleaner practices. The company places importance on traceability, and also removes or substitutes ingredients that are generally unsustainable or unhealthy. For example, the company uses coconut oil instead of palm oil in its products. The products are all organic certified and non-gmo verified.
- Invest in farmers
From the beginning, Alter Eco was driven by the need to support fair trade cooperatives and fair trade premiums that allow for their suppliers to invest in community needs, such as school programs or new farming equipment. 100% of their products are source directly from small-scale farmers and fair trade certified. The company works with four main cooperatives in Ecuador, Peru, India and Sri Lanka.
- Regenerate the Earth
Alter Eco supports a carbon insetting agroforestry program with PUR Projet that allows the company to offset all of its carbon emissions through reforestation activities with their co-ops in Peru. This reforestation project and other support from the company allow for their suppliers to enact dynamic agroforestry practices that improve the health of the soils and long-term health of the farms.
Alter Eco joined One Step Closer to an Organic Sustainable Community (OSC2), a community of businesses mostly in the Northern California area that are driving sustainable impact in 2012. Alter Eco joined OSC2 in the creation of the Climate Collaborative to promote sustainability and climate change mitigative practices to private sector food companies.
- Eliminate waste
In 2014, Alter Eco created the first fully compostable laminated stand-up pouch, which it used for its line of quinoa products. The company partnered with Gone4Good to create pouches made from birch and eucalyptus wood pulp, non-GMO corn, and printed with non-toxic ink. The pouches compost within three to six months. The company later added compostable packaging for its truffle wrappers, which are made of eucalyptus and birch fibers, layered with a thin layer of aluminum, and printed with natural inks.
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