The town of Sint-Niklaas is home to Waasland Drinks, a family business with a great appreciation of fair trade and local production. “Since the coronavirus pandemic, people increasingly want to know where their goods are coming from”, says Jonas Nicque. “That’s the good thing about Oxfam Fair Trade products: it’s a given that they are completely fair trade.”
In 1969 Nicque’s grandfather founded a drinks business. Small-scale, family-run and local. In 2020 it’s still a family affair, though it has grown a bit since its modest beginnings. And to this day they value quality and time-efficient, personal service above all.
They recognise these values in Oxfam Fair Trade, too, and so we went to pay this like-minded company a little visit.
A transparent and reliable partner
Jonas: “The story behind the fair trade products is important to us at Waasland Drinks. Being sure that the producers get a fair price and knowing that the raw materials were grown under good working conditions, that’s of great value to us. To add to that, Oxfam Fair Trade have an excellent logistics system and always get the job done; that’s just as important to us because we need to know we can rely on partners to meet our demand and that of our clients.”
In the past few months this transparency regarding product origins and the commitment to excellent service have been even more important than usual. “People were no longer able to come directly to us, so we had to go to them. That demanded a significant adjustment, in terms of organisation. We were still able to count on Oxfam, even for specific requests”, says Jonas, “They remained responsive to our needs.”
Winning trust with Oxfam’s wines
A specialist drinks shop / wholesaler attracts people who are sometimes on the lookout for, well, something special. What does Jonas recommend to them?
“I’m personally a fan of Oxfam’s wines, and so I present them to clients who are looking for suggestions. The information I pass onto them about Oxfam Fair Trade is always well-received. And when they return they often have positive things to say about the products and how they were pleasantly surprised by the wines! Oxfam Fair Trade has a good, informative website. I often refer the clients to the site for more info about Oxfam products. Or I print the info out and give it to them to take home. They seem to really appreciate that.”
All aboard the fair trade wagon!
Jonas and co are becoming fair trade ambassadors and hope to see more businesses from the area follow their example. “We recently bought the remaining JUSTE gift boxes from the local scouts. Their events were cancelled due to the corona safety measures. We were happy to buy their beers off them because we’re also zero-waste advocates. What’s more, JUSTE is fair trade and local, another great match with us.”
The verdict? In the heart of Waasland you’ll find a business with its heart in the right place. A business that honours producers, quality and fair trade!