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Social Impact

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.

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A Letter from the Founders

2021 was a year of opportunity for Burlap & Barrel.

Rather than rest on our (bay) laurels, we built on the momentum of 2020 and worked hard to continue to grow our business. We introduced 75 new products over the course of the year, including incredible new spices from our existing partner farmers, spices sourced from brand-new partner farms (many exporting their crops for the very first time), and a slate of unique collaboration products with other wonderful food companies, from chocolate bars to cocktail bitters to jams.

We also took the opportunity of the (relative) stability of early 2021 to reinforce our behind-the-scenes systems and we finally received some big shipments that had gotten stuck in the supply-chain lockup of 2020. We expanded our team, hiring an inspiring crew of former customers and friends-of-friends to turn our very scrappy little operation into a grown-up company. (True story: on our customer support team, you’ll find a former social worker, a former counselor and a former nurse practitioner—we weren’t kidding when we chose to use care@burlapandbarrel.com as our customer support email.)

Since our launch 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 and fermenting and overall built more powerful and resilient businesses.

Growing our business is important to us because it increases the scale of our social impact. The more spices we sell, the more we can buy from our partner farmers, which leads to improved livelihoods and new opportunities for them. When farmers grow specialty crops, they have more power over supply chains, and they can make more intentional choices for their businesses, families and communities.

Of all our accomplishments in 2021, the one that means the most to us is that in just one year, we were able to put just shy of $1 million ($928,497 to be exact) into the pockets of highly skilled, entrepreneurial farmers around the world committed to growing culturally significant and absolutely delicious spices using largely organic and regenerative farming methods.
Our spices taste as good as they do because of our partner farmers' expertise and care, and we're honored we could support their work on an even larger scale in 2022.

Ori and Ethan
Burlap & Barrel Co-founders & Co-CEOS

Impact at Origin

When we talk to our partner farmers about their goals for their own businesses, we often hear that same answer: they want to add more value at origin. A value-added process makes the difference between a farmer receiving a commodity price versus being able to charge a premium for their crops. Those processes can be as simple as cleaning, sorting or grinding spices, activities that are typically done by intermediaries rather than by farmers themselves. By taking on those additional processes, farmers can produce a unique product that commands a higher price.

We also consider specialized agricultural techniques to be a way for farmers to add value—organic, no-till, no-irrigation, intercropping, agroforestry, wild-harvesting and other regenerative approaches help improve quality and make their crops stand out against commodity spices.

Simply put, farmers taking charge of unique value-added processes at origin means they make more money and open up new opportunities for their communities. We’ve worked for years to support our partner farmers along those lines, as well as helping upcycle former waste products (like cinnamon tree leaves) into valuable ingredients.

In 2021, we began working on a new project: a line of iconic spice blends from around the world, produced at origin by our partner farmers and other spice artisans in their communities. Our Origin Blend project supports our partners to create unique versions of traditional spice blends, both helping add value by creating a brand-new product and representing an element of their local cuisine to a global audience. 

Driving Impact at Origin with Value-Add Activities:

Farming Practices

Organic Farming

  • Long-term farmer & consumer health
  • Lower yield, higher quality

Regenerative Farming

  • Environmental health & carbon sequestration
  • Long-term farm productivity

Wild Harvesting

  • Incentivizes natural habitat protection
  • High-value varietals provide supplemental income

Post-Harvest Practices 

Drying

Cleaning

Grinding

Blending

  • Farmers take more ownership of the supply chain
  • Captures more income for the community

Long-Term Farmer Partnerships 

From the very beginning, the foundation of our business has been our long-term relationships with our partner farmers.

Rather than competing for the lowest possible price, we work collaboratively with our partner farmers to build both of our businesses over time.

Here are the three ways we do it:

Farmer-led Pricing

We ask our partner farmers to set prices for their spices each year based on their costs, inputs and business goals.

Purchase Commitments & Down Payments

We make purchase commitments and significant down payments as long as a year before the harvest.

Long-Term Relationships

We work with our partner farmers to plan for increasing volumes year over year. 

2021 By the Numbers 

Sourced 76 spices from 23 countries

Including 4 new countries (Argentina, Hungary, Nepal, Sri Lanka)

Paid $928,497 to partner farmers 

170% more than in 2020

Sourced 198,590 pounds of spices 

84% of spices sourced were grown organically

Sourcing by Country 

Sourcing Map
Quantity Sourced (lb)Amount Paid (USD$)
Afghanistan9,974$65,519
Argentina1,006$3,276
Canada792$3,600
Egypt3,850$11,858
Ethiopia572$3,952
Grenada539$7,545
Guatemala23,980$133,600
Hungary *NEW*5,280$32,219
Iceland770$2,510
India23,390$67,496
Indonesia2,860$15,600
Mexico10$2,295
Nepal *NEW*1,100$8,000
Nicaragua2,200$5,000
Nigeria1,100$2,500
Palestine4,686$30,690
Peru39$9,300
Spain8,800$25,796
Sri Lanka *NEW*231$2,205
Tanzania18,780$109,117
Turkey26,510$79,924
USA9,871$171,519
Vietnam52,250$134,978
Grand Total198,590$928,497

2021 Impact at Home 

2021 was also a year of meaningful impact at home.

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. Ori, Ethan and other members of our team worked with dozens of entrepreneurs throughout the year to help with their sourcing, supply chains, pricing, marketing and strategy. If you fit the description and would like our advice with your business, please email us at care@burlapandbarrel.com.

We’re also proud to continue our Pay What You Can program to assist customers who need reduced pricing on our spices. Customers determine an accessible price that’s accessible for them, and we honor that price, no questions asked.

We also donated spices to organizations including Emma’s Torch, FEAST, God’s Love We Deliver, MOFAD and many more. 

Floyd Cardoz Legacy Masalas

After launching the first three Floyd Cardoz Legacy Masalas in 2020, we continued the project with a launch of a second set in 2021. Barkha Cardoz, Floyd’s wife and business partner, is the architect of the project and we’re honored to support her in keeping Floyd’s brilliance alive in home kitchens across the country. Barkha says:

The Floyd Cardoz Masalas are a dream that started in our home many years ago. They got their wings in October 2020 and are learning to fly with love and support from the amazing Burlap & Barrel family.

Floyd was a big believer in paying it forward. He loved using his chef platform to support causes that were close to his heart. He taught us by “walking the walk” and doing whatever he could every single day to help make the world a better place with compassion and empathy.So, it only made sense to all of us to carry on his legacy with the masalas by donating $1 per jar that was purchased. We've sold more than 32,000 jars of masalas since October 2020, and the $32,000 that we raised has been donated to these wonderful causes: 

  • Cookies for Kids’ Cancer: A cause Floyd was close to, with funds donated towards pediatric cancer research funding.
  • South Asian Council for Social Services: Donated to the food pantry for immigrant families in Queens, NY.
  • TYCIA Foundation - India Against Corona: Provided 92 families in need in India with food and groceries for a month.
  • 360Plus Foundation: Funded families in India to start small businesses after the loss of the primary earning member to COVID.
  • Kolba: Contributed to a fundraiser to print illustrated children's books for Afghan children resettling in the US.

None of this would have happened if you didn’t welcome the Floyd Cardoz Masalas into your kitchens. I hope you will continue to help us do more. We've only just begun.

Our sons, Peter and Justin, and I thank you from the bottom of our hearts for giving us the power to keep Floyd’s legacy moving forward. We wish you and your families a safe and peaceful holiday season and a New Year that is filled with warmth and new flavors.

With much gratitude,

Lastly, we wanted to thank you for supporting us and allowing us to grow our impact. We’re already making a whole lotta progress on our 2022 impact goals, and we can’t wait to share them with you next year.

how do we compare? Supermarket Icon Supermarket Fair Trade Icon Fair Trade
Heirloom Spices Yes No No
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 1-800 number?
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