What is Fair Trade?
Coffee farmer Francisco Orellana is a happy man. His children go to school, drink clean water and attend a health clinic when they are sick. And it’s all thanks to the Fair Trade co-operative to which he belongs.
The Fair Trade logo is now recognised by 50% of the UK adult population and is appearing on more and more products in our stores. The Fair Trade movement started in the Netherlands in 1988 and has since spread worldwide. The first product targeted was coffee but now Fair Trade tea, chocolate, cocoa, honey, bananas, sugar, orange juice and mangoes are readily available. Last year, 20% of the coffee drunk in the UK was sourced from Fair Trade with the Cafedirect Fairtrade brand holding 10.5% of the market share.
Fair Trade works by buying direct from the growers’ co-operatives and paying them a higher and a more stable price than that which they would receive from selling on the commodities markets. It provides the farmers with a guaranteed, regular income and also with a separate payment for social and economic development within their community. In this way, the community can pay for teachers and health care, build schools and clinics and improve the quality and quantity of their crops.
For us, it means paying a slightly higher price for our goods but with the knowledge that the money is used to help those poorer people in underdeveloped countries, previously unable to eke out anything more than subsistence living.
In 2002, the Co-op decided to sell only Fair Trade coffee and chocolate in its stores. Some of the extra cost had to be absorbed by the company but it has paid off with over £3 million a year spent on chocolate alone by its customers.
The Fair Trade movement is now global and the number of products targeted has reached 1500.
Cotton is the latest crop to come under the Fair Trade banner, which it is hoped could benefit some of the 100 million families involved in cotton growing worldwide. And so, like Francisco Orellana, they too can look forward to a better and brighter future for their children.