As you may have heard, we’re now well into Fairtrade Fortnight, which spans from 23rd February – 8th March. I always find it kind of surprising when people tell me they’re suspicious about buying fairly traded goods – mainly because they have no proof that any good is being done, and that they’re spending more for the same products. Because of this, I thought it would be a good idea to celebrate Fairtrade Fortnight by delving into its projects and seeing what good is actually being done – if any – when buying products with the famous Fairtrade logo.
The word “Fairtrade” actually represents a number of things. Firstly, it’s the familiar blue and green mark that represents certain environmental, labour and development standards are being met in producing the item you’re holding. While you may have noticed that products with the Fairtrade logo are often dearer than their non-certified counterparts, it’s because the extra percentage paid goes to ensuring that farmers and their workers are paid a “fair” wage (in comparison to the industry standard), while also ensuring working conditions are safer and there is a chance for the surrounding community to develop. This can come in the form of education, healthcare, economic developments – whatever the producers themselves deem necessary.
Fairtrade is also used to refer to the Fairtrade Foundation, which created the practice and licenses use of the logo, and Fairtrade International, the standard-setting body and overall body that the Fairtrade Foundation, its producers and partner organisations make up.
What you may not know about Fairtrade
So far, the process seems pretty simple – pay more, give more back to those in the supply chain that are often marginalised (i.e. workers in countries that do not legislate or enforce better working conditions – Fairtrade attempts to stimulate that kind of environment by avoiding political influences). However, there are a number of facts you may not know – and for some of them, neither did I! – about Fairtrade that may just make you want to pick up that bunch of bananas or those coffee beans.
- 50% of Fairtrade International is owned by producers – giving them an equal voice
- Fairtrade is the only certification scheme that offers such a unique minimum price protection for farmers
- The Fairtrade minimum price is consultative – it is set on a case-by-case basis when meeting producer organisations, rather than a percentage of goods sold
- There are over 4,500 Fairtrade products in the UK
- Almost 1 in 3 bananas sold in the UK is Fairtrade
- Fairtrade certifies food products and non-food products (see below for the full lists!)
- Fairtrade doesn’t certify large-scale producers as its mission is to make trade work for marginalised or disadvantaged producers
- Certain Fairtrade products are helping fight against climate change by supporting local producer-led environmental projects
- Not all Fairtrade products are organic
- No Fairtrade producers use GMOs (but cross-contamination is a growing concern)
Which products are fairly traded?
Fairtrade has grown over the years to include both food and non-food products in its certification. In the UK, you will be able to find following products certified as Fairtrade:
- Dried fruit
- Fresh fruit
- Fresh vegetables
- Beauty products
- Cut flowers
- Ornamental plants
- Sports balls
Photo credit: Alexa Mazzarello