|Industry||Beverage, organic products|
|Founders||Alex Pryor, David Karr|
|United States, Canada|
|Stefan Kozak, CEO|
|Products||Yerba mate, beverages, energy shots, energy drinks|
Guayakí Sustainable Rainforest Products, Inc., more commonly known as Guayakí, is an organic beverage company specializing in yerba mate products based in Sebastopol, California. In addition to offering loose-leaf yerba mate, Guayakí also sells canned as well as carbonated yerba mate drinks, and energy shots. Guayakí receives American-nationwide distribution to approximately 10,000 stores, primarily through organic and health-oriented grocery stores such as Whole Foods among other retailers, as well as through online channels.
In 2018 Guayakí's mission was, in part, to "steward and restore 200,000 acres of rainforest and create over 1,000 living-wage jobs by 2020" in the Atlantic Forest through their own "Market Driven Restoration" model, the idea that imperialism and colonialism as a result of the market for products from less-developed countries can be combatted using the market itself.
The name Guayakí comes from the Indigenous Aché people of Paraguay, who are ancestral consumers of the mate plant. In the interest of social and environmental responsibility, the company works with the Aché people to conserve the rainforest habitat they dwell in and harvest mate. Guayakí pays the community for the use of its name.
Guayakí is California's first B Corporation, certified organic by USDA Organic; Additionally, the company is also certified fair trade by IMO and is a member of Fair Trade Federation, and the first yerba mate company to achieve biodynamic certification.
Since its grown in popularity, the sale of yerba mate has been the subject of conversations around cultural appropriation of Indigenous culture. One such target of criticism are Guayakí's drink labels, which employ the Indigenous origins of the plant to market the product as "exotic" or "mystical". The back of the cans and bottles read:
Reach deep into yerba mate culture and you'll discover people have long gathered to imbibe mate to awaken the mind, perform extraordinary feats and to exchange confidences. Even Yari, the mythical goddess of mate decrees it the symbol of friendship. We've always believed there was a magical tree in the rainforest with powers to unite and energize. Come to life with this high energy infusion brewed from the mighty, emerald green mate leaves
Despite its commitment to sustainability and transformative commodity chains, the company has received some academic criticism for the use of "problematic" marketing for the beverage.
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