Christians Urged to Back Fairtrade

by Gerry Lynch last modified 25 Feb, 2015 05:52 PM

Calls for renewed support after first Fairtrade sales fall in 20 years

Christians Urged to Back Fairtrade

Women from the Kuapa Kokoo cocoa growing collective in Ghana.

In the first week of Fairtrade Fortnight (23 February – 8 March), there are calls on Christians and the wider public to show renewed support for Fairtrade after retail sales in the UK fell by 3.7% in 2014.

“For the first time in our 20 year history, the traditional grocery market has been contracting, and the value of food spending is in decline.”, said Michael Gidney, Chief Executive at the Fairtrade Foundation, "Given Fairtrade is increasingly part of this mainstream, it’s no surprise that these wider trends are having an impact on Fairtrade sales.

“Our main concern now is that increasingly aggressive competitive behaviour in the grocery sector could undermine the volumes farmers and workers are able to sell on Fairtrade terms, this will result in real losses to hard working families and communities in some of the poorest countries in the world.”

The ingredients in Fairtrade products have been produced by small-scale farmer organisations or plantations that meet Fairtrade social, economic and environmental standards. The standards include protection of workers’ rights and the environment, payment of the Fairtrade Minimum Price and an additional Fairtrade Premium to invest in business or community projects.

Some Fairtrade products have performed well despite the current economic climate. Sales of bananas and coffee grew slightly, with Fairtrade switches by Tesco, Waitrose and Wild Bean Café.

Fairtrade flowers have performed particularly well, with a 30% increase in the volume of sales in one year with the launch of Fairtrade roses in Aldi and increased Fairtrade flower sales in Asda, Sainsbury’s and the Co-operative.

To boost the volumes of commodities sold on Fairtrade terms and deliver greater benefits to farmers and workers, Fairtrade has developed new ways for businesses to source materials on Fairtrade terms, embedding the values and principles of Fairtrade more deeply into supply chains. Fairtrade Sourcing Programs for cocoa, sugar and cotton enable companies to source one or more commodities on Fairtrade terms. Four of the UK’s top chocolate brands, for example, are now directly working with Fairtrade certification. 

Welcoming the new Fairtrade Sourcing Programs, Fortin Bley, a cocoa farmer from Cote d’Ivoire and President of the Fairtrade Africa Cocoa Network, said: “This is the breakthrough we have been looking for. The farmers I represent in Africa have been looking to sell more cocoa as Fairtrade for a long time.”

Fairtrade has also announced a new sustainability partnership with Waitrose, the first of its kind. Fairtrade and Waitrose will share best practice and aim to build upon and improve sustainable supply chains.

First held in 1995, this year’s Fairtrade Fortnight campaign turns the spotlight on the producers who grow some of our favourite everyday foods – including cocoa, sugar and tea – to show the difference that Fairtrade makes to their lives and why Fairtrade is urgently needed.

A new short film ‘Fairtrade Matters’, which gives a glimpse into the life of a tea farmer and a tea worker in Malawi, will be shown at hundreds of screenings across the UK organised by Fairtrade campaigners. Other highlights include cocoa farmers from the Dominican Republic and Belize, and sugar cane producers from Malawi and Jamaica, touring the country to meet with Fairtrade campaigners and the public, to share their stories and how Fairtrade makes a difference to their lives.

Watch a trailer of the Fairtrade Matters film.

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