Burlap & Barrel is a Public Benefit Corporation. We publish an annual Impact Report to track how we've been advancing our social mission.
Our mission is to end inequality and exploitation in food systems by connecting farmers to high-value markets, helping smallholders farmers generate larger share of the product's value, and establishing long-term, mutually-beneficial partnerships.
Most spice supply chains are completely opaque; where the spices came from, who grew them, and how they were grown is usually a mystery. That’s not by accident - the systems we live with today are legacies of the colonial spice trade, which was designed to disenfranchise farmers and shortchange consumers.
We're replacing those broken systems with equitable sourcing, direct supply chains, and mutually-supportive relationships with our partner farmers. It's not only better for our partner farmers and our world; it also makes for much fresher, more flavorful spices.
We bring you spices that come from transparent, direct supply chains. We pay our partner farmers 2-10x the commodity price. Thanks to your support, we've paid our partner farmers over $1.7 million since we launched the company in October 2016.
Want to learn more? Keep scrolling to read our impact reports.
A Letter from the Co-Founders
2022 was a year of balancing sustainable growth and catching our breath as a company. We partnered with new farmers, deepened our long-term relationships with existing partner farmers and broadened our impact at home. We introduced more than 50 new products, including iconic spice blends produced at origin, single origin sugars and unique collaborations with food companies that we admire. We saw things slow down from the intensity and urgency of 2020 and 2021, which was a welcome change of pace.
In 2022, we put $422,059 into the pockets of highly skilled, entrepreneurial farmers around the world. They are committed to growing culturally significant and absolutely delicious spices primarily through organic and regenerative farming methods, and our businesses continue to grow together.
Conscientiously growing our business increases our social impact. The more spices we sell, the more spices we can buy from our partner farmers, improving their livelihoods — these long-standing relationships are the basis of our business, and we work together on planning so we can be more resilient in the face of supply-and-demand changes.
Since we launched our company in 2016, almost all of our partner farmers have significantly increased their spice production, expanded to new spices and other crops, managed value-added processes like sorting, grinding, chopping, curing, fermenting and blending, and built more powerful and resilient businesses. We have grown right alongside them, supporting their growth through purchasing commitments and meaningful down payments, and getting the word out about single origin spices.
Our spices taste incredible because of our partner farmers' expertise and care, and we are honored to support their work on an even larger scale in 2023.
Ori and Ethan
Burlap & Barrel Co-founders & Co-CEOS
Written by: Bayley Freeman, Operations & Communications Manager
Alyssa Melendez, Operations & Supply Chain Manager
Impact at Origin
- Long-term farmer & consumer health
- Lower yield, higher quality
- Environmental health & carbon sequestration
- Long-term farm productivity
- Incentivizes natural habitat protection
- High-value varietals provide supplemental income
Post-Harvest Practices, Value-Added Practices at Origin
We regularly check in with our partner farmers during in-person farm visits and video calls. In 2022, we personally visited our partner farms in Hungary, Guatemala, Colombia, France, Vietnam and Vermont. Visiting with our partner farmers is crucial to maintaining long-term relationships and growing our businesses together, and the time we spend together deepens our mutual understanding of the market on both sides.
In 2022, we introduced four Origin Blends, a new line of iconic spice blends produced at origin by our partners, keeping the value of blend development and blending at origin. We sold over 10,000 jars of origin blends, bringing our customers the absolute highest quality spice blends, made by spice-blending experts according to traditional recipes.
We asked some of our long-standing partner farmers to talk about our relationships and how we’ve grown our businesses together over the years, and here’s what they had to say:
Long-Term Farmer Partnerships
Our business is built on long-term relationships with our partner farmers. We work collaboratively to grow our businesses together.
We ask our partner farmers to set prices for their spices.
Purchase Commitments & Down Payments
We make purchase commitments and significant advance payments.
We work with our partner farmers to plan for changing volumes year over year, so they can forecast and plan, increasing their businesses’ resiliency to supply-and-demand challenges.
2022 By the Numbers
In 2022, we rebalanced our inventory. With so much supply chain turbulence in 2020 and 2021, we had placed bigger orders with our partner farmers to get more money in their hands and to create a buffer for uncertain harvesting, processing, and transit conditions.
We saw this uncertainty stabilize in 2022, and we worked with our partner farmers to purchase just what we needed at the peak harvest times.
In that time, we passed some big milestones: over $2.1 million paid to our partner farmers since the beginning of our business for over 460,000 lbs. Our Origin Blends also helped us increase the average price per pound paid to our partner farmers.
Sourced 20 spices
Including 4 origin blends
Paid $422,059 to partner farmers
Sourced 86,063 pounds of spices
2022 Sourcing by Country
|Country||Quantity Sourced (lb)||Amount Paid (USD$)|
|Puerto Rico *NEW*||90||$757|
Finally, we’ve been laying a lot of the groundwork to significantly reduce our carbon footprint.
We added a second warehouse on the West coast to significantly increase the use of ground shipping (in lieu of air freight), reducing single parcel transit distance.
We also transitioned our PET container labels to an APR-approved Clean Flake label substrate that allows the labels to be removed from the containers more easily during the PET recycling process, helping to improve PCR quality.
You may have noticed more of your packages coming in pouches rather than boxes — that’s to reduce the weight and size of the orders for more efficient shipping.
2022 Impact at Home
In 2022, we also made meaningful impacts at home.
We launched three collaboration spice blends with the non-profit God’s Love We Deliver, and we donated $11,000 of the proceeds from the sales of the blends to their charity. We also supplied the organization with discounted spices for the kitchen, where they make and deliver nutritious, medically tailored meals to people too sick to shop or cook for themselves.
We introduced Smoke ‘N’ Herb, a heady collaboration blend with Ghetto Gastro, and we donated $1 from each jar sold to organizations that support criminal justice reform and cannabis justice.
We continued our donations to charities from sales of our Floyd Cardoz Legacy Masalas, made in partnership with Barkha Cardoz. Since the launch we’ve sold over 45,000 jars of masalas, which means we donated more than $45,000 on behalf of Floyd and Barkha Cardoz to charities they support, included Cookies for Kids Cancer, South Asian Council for Social Services, TYCIA Foundation, 360 Plus Foundation, Kolba, NJAAF and The Desai Foundation.
We continued our Guerrilla Ice Cream initiative, a pro-bono advising and consulting project for early-stage entrepreneurs of color and from other historically-excluded backgrounds to help with their sourcing, supply chains, pricing, marketing and strategy.
We honored every one of the requests to utilize our Pay What You Can program, which assists customers who need reduced pricing on our spices (no questions asked). One customer wrote to us about her experience, saying, “This is sooo wonderful and kind, thank you so much! I am so grateful. These spices are incredible. I can truly taste the difference. Because the spices are good, I will tell other people. But because of your kindness, I will tell everyone I can and encourage them to purchase from you.”
We also donated spices to many organizations and charities, including:
Museum of Food and Drink MOPS
Food Bank for New York City
Black Women for Wellness
Stacey’s Purple Daisy Foundation
Jefferson Elementary School
Habitat for Humanity
National Headache Foundation
Read to a Child
Par 4 the Cure
Slow Food Denver
Food Education Fund
Camp QualityGrace Center of Hope
Indraika Animal Sanctuary
The Arc Mid-Hudson Foundation
Criu de Sheela
The Dental Kidz Foundation WomenSafe
The Zeke Bondy-Villa Memorial Charities Fund, Inc
The Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation
South Asian Council for Social Services (SACSS)
Wendell Foster's Campus for Developmental Disabilities
Valley Community Growth Connection
National Ovarian Cancer Coalition
The Cure Starts Now
Alan Green 4 Chesed Fund
Orange County School of the ArtsJ
ewish Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Los Angeles
Brain Injury Alliance of NJ
Our final and heartiest thanks go to you for supporting us and allowing us to grow our impact!
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|how do we compare?||Supermarket||Fair Trade|
|Fair Prices for Farmers||Yes||No||Depends on global commodity price|
|Time in Storage||None. We import spices at harvest||Up to 10 years||At least 1 year|
|Flavor Profile||Intense & fresh||Stale & bland||Inconsistent|
|Knows Farmers Names||Yes||No||Unlikely|
|Customer Service||Fast responses from real people!||No||There might be a