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Essential Trading Co-operative Ltd

Essential Trading

Essential Trading is one of the largest workers' co-operatives in the UK, established in 1971. It is one of the highest rated companies in our guides specialising in ethically produced, organic, Fairtrade, ‘free from’ and  non-airfreighted foods.


The Essential Trading catalogue includes 2412 organic and 311 fair trade products. Its policy is to "Actively trad[e] with ethical producers and co-operatives", and its trading objectives include "Commitment to human rights as a trading issue" and "Dedication to the co-operative principles". The company therefore has effective practices in place for the protection of workers’ rights.

However, it lacks a clear supplier policy and auditing plan for its own brand suppliers, and therefore receives a middle Supply Chain Management rating overall.

Many of its own brand products also gain positive marks for being certified Fairtrade.


Essential Trading has made several commitments to more sustainable trade and manufacture. It only uses sustainable palm oil; sells almost exclusively organic cotton; and does not import or export any products by air freight.

Many of its products also gain positive marks for being certified organic, and all paper products are from either FSC certified or recycled timber sources.

Unfortunately, its reporting on its environmental impact is not so strong. It does not have any targets to improve sustainability nor a report dated to within the past two years. It therefore lost a full mark for Environmental Reporting.


Essential Trading takes a strong stance on animal rights in several ways. For example, the co-operative is entirely vegetarian, and it refuses to trade with any outlets selling real fur.


Essential Trading gains a mark for its Company Ethos as a long-running co-operative, entirely owned and operated by its workers, and which has a 100% vegetarian and vegan policy. It also takes a strong stance on genetic engineering, as a GMO-free company, and is therefore considered to have a positive policy regarding this Controversial Technology.

  • Ethical Consumer Best Buy: Yes
  • Boycotts: No

Company information

Company Ethiscore

Company Address:

Unit 3
Lodge Causeway Trading Estate
FishpondsBristolBS16 3JB

Associated brands

  • Essential
  • Cafe Rebelde (UK)

Ownership structure

Ethical stories