I'm sure that we all recognise this symbol and can spot a mile away that it indicates a Fairtrade product. Fairtrade work with businesses, consumers, and campaigners to ensure that farmers and workers who grow or make a product have an equal say in everything Fairtrade does.
Fairtrade have a vision that we can create "a world where all producers can enjoy secure and sustainable livelihoods, fulfil their potential and decide their future!
To achieve this vision, Fairtrade has a mission. Firstly, they aim to connect disadvantaged farmers and workers with consumers, secondly promote fairer trading conditions and thirdly to empower farmers and workers to combat poverty, strengthen their position and take more control over their livelihoods.
Fairtrade have been setting standards for 25 years. They set social, economic and environmental standards for companies and farmers and workers who grow the food so we can enjoy the products we love. These standards ensure companies pay the Fairtrade Minimum Price and a Fairtrade Premium which is invested in community projects (chosen by the community) or into the business. For the farmers and works, this these standards ensure the protection of workers’ rights and the environment.
In order to obtain the Fairtrade mark, Fairtrade check that their standards have been met by companies, farmers and workers across the supply chain. However, companies which source only one ingredient which align with Fairtrade terms, are marked with a different seal of approval:
How does Fairtrade promote sustainability? They focus on numerous aspects, including social sustainability. They promote social sustainability by enhancing farmers and workers standard of living - this is done by ensuring income and food security, reduced risk and vulnerability. Additionally, they enable stronger organisations by encouraging farmers to take a democratic leadership and be efficient with improved governance - meaning their business will be a stronger business partner in the supply chain! Moreover, Fairtrade enables farmers and works to invest in their communities to improve their access to basic services.
Importantly, Fairtrade advance environmental sustainability as they encourage environmental protection and climate change adaptation. This involves training for farmers and includes advice on environmentally friendly farming practices! Fairtrade say: "This has been shown to lead to good agricultural practices, which have encouraged environmentally sustainable production.".
To read more about Fairtrade and how it promotes sustainability, take a look here.
Fairtrade works globally. In this system, there are over 1.66 million farmers and workers within 1,411 producer organisations in over 73 countries. You can use this interactive map to explore the amount of farmers and organisations in each country. There are more amazing facts and figures of the outcomes of the work by Fairtrade:
Of all farmers and workers in Fairtrade, 23% are women – 42% of which are on plantations and 21% within small farmer organisations.
Workers on Fairtrade plantations invested 33% of their premium in housing improvements.
Small producer organisations spent 48% of their premium in services for farmers – such as teaching environmentally conscious farming methods.
However, Fairtrade has faced a lot of backlash. According to an opinion piece in The Guardian, they claim the economic model adopted by Fairtrade contains significant limitations that ‘allow for criticism’. This piece states that the movement is regularly accused of working with companies that have previously behaved unethically. The economic model faces ‘structural contradiction’ as Fairtrade products which are attached to a high minimum prices will not be found in many sales outlets, meaning low sales and benefits to farmers and workers also reduced. The other argument is that if the prices of the products are competitive, the sales will increase but the amount of money generated from sales will be ‘insignificant’. In my view, it is still important to promote Fairtrade. Fairtrade still standby their vision and mission. As the issue of non-fair trade is promoted further, the public will become more aware of the simple swaps they can make by purchasing products with the marked symbol to do their bit – be it spending a little bit more on Fairtrade certified products or even saving!
Fairtrade Fortnight will run from Monday 24 February - Sunday 8 March 2020, highlighting the issue of non-fair trade to the wider public and encouraging consumers to buy products Fairtrade certified which will in turn help Fairtrade achieve their vision by carrying out their mission and setting their standards! During Fairtrade Fortnight, five flagship events followed by panel discussions with guest inspirational women speakers in Manchester, York, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Oxford will held across the UK to highlight the inequality experienced by the women and girls behind the multibillion global chocolate industry. These events will tell inspiring stories about individuals who, against the odds, are becoming entrepreneurs and leaders in their local communities in West Africa. You can see where and when these events will take place here. Along with this, two of the women cocoa farmers will be touring the UK, visiting brands and businesses to give keynote speeches at the fairtrade flagship community. They will be providing an insight into what life is like for those who are the source of our chocolate, where two million cocoa farmers in West Africa are struggling to survive as they earn as low as 74p per day – despite this industry being worth £4 billion a year in the UK alone.
You can support Fairtrade by purchasing Fairtrade approved products. These are available at retailers such as Waitrose and Partners and John Lewis where confectionary is 100% Fairtrade cocoa. Sainsburys have launched new Fairtrade approved Monsoon Malabar coffee and the first Fairtrade sourced ingredient tea line in the UK! The Co-op have launched their first Fairtrade Pinot Noir and are the largest retailer of Fairtrade wine! Even Greggs has a fantastic range of Fairtrade, including coffee, tea and bananas. Wetherspoons also use Fairtrade sugar! Brands also making an important commitment are Chocolate and Love. They are a Fairtrade approved brand, where they source their cacao, sugar cane and vanilla from partners who benefit from Fairtrade! They have many variants of which seven are dairy-free and the whole range is gluten- and soya-free! You can look at Chocolate and Loves whole range here, and which retailers near you stock them here! What else can you do to help Fairtrade? You can also fundraise for Fairtrade or donate yourself here! By following Fairtrade on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube and signing up to their email list, you show your support for this cause and help raise awareness of the issues!