Traidcraft Geobar is 10 years old

Sometime in late March 1999 Waitrose received its first delivery of Geobars and my favourite snackbar was born. Of course, I’m a little bit biased as I was part of the launch team that created the product while I was working for Traidcraft. It was also bit tricky to see it on the shelf as Traidcraft was in Gateshead and the nearest Waitrose back then was in Newark – 160 miles away.

The team at Traidcraft – myself, Joe Osman (now a director at Traidcraft) and Stuart Palmer (now managing a hospital in Malawi) – were given just 10 weeks to create a product, design and produce packaging and get it manufactured and delivered to Waitrose. The original favourite name was going to be “Zanzibar” – taking the best fair trade ingredients from Africa and making a classic snackbar product. However, the fairtrade honey from Tanzania had dried up at the time and so Chilean honey was used instead. Zanzibar no longer seemed appropriate and so the Geobar was born.

Apparently 90% of all product launches fail – so the fact it still graces the shelves of supermarkets up and down the land is testament to the great ingredients and tasty recipe. As well as being the first snackbar to carry the Fairtrade Mark, it was also the first Traidcraft product to carry the mark. Until that point Traidcraft had felt that it was more well known in fairtrade circles than the mark was – almost certainly true at the time as the mark was in its infancy and Traidcraft was celebrating its 20th birthday. However, to reach out to new markets via the supermarkets we worked with Fairtrade Foundation to get the Mark on the product. You will now find the fairtrade mark on more than 200 products in the Traidcraft range.

Of course the product hasn’t stood still. The year after its original launch a chocolate version was created. Other varieties have appeared for a short period and then been replaced – Apple and Cranberry being  two that are no longer available. Despite that I suspect the new Honey Nut Geobar will be a permanent fixture in the range – a great tasting product in a handy 32g size bar.

The producers haven’t stood still either. Hundreds of tonnes of Chilean honey and South African raisins have delivered great benefits back to the producers. The apricots are now sourced from an amazing project high up in the mountains in the North of Pakistan. Before Traidcraft and Tropical Wholefoods got involved the apricots were grown simply for their kernels – the sweet tasting apricot flesh was simply thrown away. Using solar drying the apricots are dried and exported to the UK. This is a great new source income for disadvantaged farmers who grow and now dry them.

So well done Traidcraft – the Geobar is 10 years old. The sales are now £5million a year on that one product line – so well done to you all too for being loyal, committed customers of this excellent product. Roll on another 10 years of fairtrade snacking.

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