Fairtrade?… Fair Point
Each year around this time we celebrate Fairtrade Fortnight, a time where everyone can do what they can to spread the word about Fairtrade.
It has remained at the centre of what we do at Ethical Superstore since we started out in 2005. Whilst also offering a range of other ‘ethics’ by which we select and support the products we sell, Fairtrade has, by far, the strongest and most increasing presence not only in our own product range but also more and more on the high street.
The importance of the route by which Fairtrade goods reach our homes is key to the success of the initiative. Given the ongoing revelations surfacing during the current horse meat scandal that has rocked some major retailers recently, a product’s route to market is very much at the forefront of consumer awareness.
The Fairtrade Foundation says that in most cases, Fairtrade products, including Fairtrade coffee, nuts and spices, are required to be fully traceable. They have to be marked and kept isolated at each part of the journey from the farmers to the retailers. That said, when The Fairtrade Foundation tried to introduce similar rules for produce such as sugar, cocoa, tea and juice, they found there was little physical traceability in the way these sectors worked.
A good example of this is the chocolate industry. Here, farmers are not always able to keep Fairtrade and non-Fairtrade produce separated in production, from the cocoa field to the final bar. Cocoa beans are delivered en masse by farmers and unavoidably mixed during shipping and manufacturing.
To avoid losing Fairtrade sales opportunities for many small farmers, Fairtrade ensures that manufacturers wishing to use the Fairtrade Mark are required to buy the exact amount of produce they need from Fairtrade farmers for the final product. For example, if a chocolate bar uses 100 tonnes of cocoa, the manufacturer must purchase 100 tonnes of cocoa from Fairtrade farmers and are obliged to include an additional $200 premium per tonne. This way, even if the produce is later mixed with non-Fairtrade produce, Fairtrade farmers still get 100% of the benefits and the better deal that the Fairtrade Mark represents.
The Fairtrade Foundation’s aim is to provide support to farmers and workers in the developing world so they can increase their share in the global markets. The stringent inspection and auditing systems implemented by the Fairtrade Foundation are there to ensure the amount of Fairtrade product manufactured exactly matches the amount of Fairtrade product purchased.
By supporting Fairtrade, Ethical Superstore is able to help you, our ethical consumers, Buy What You Believe and make sure that every human being along the supply chain is fairly paid, fairly treated and have the opportunity to grow their businesses to become independent. This is something we take for granted in the “developed” world but we believe that the movement is strong enough to provide the demand and help level the playing field for everyone involved.