For some of us, Fairtrade Fortnight might be a somewhat subdued affair this year, because late in January, we heard that Traidcraft is going into administration. Traidcraft were among the pioneers of Fairtrade in this country. Starting in 1979, and (particularly through churches), growing until they became a familiar ‘brand’, they really spread the concept of Fairtrade**.
We have known for some time that Traidcraft were experiencing difficulties; a few years ago, they were forced to re-structure, and had to stop, for example, buying crafts direct from producers. More recently, they have had to severely limit the differential between the price we could buy from them wholesale, and the price we could charge, which was beginning to make our life difficult!
But now, of course, they have suffered from all the difficulties hitting small businesses – steeply rising costs, uncertainty in deliveries, the rising cost of deliveries… And it seems this time they have not found any way forward.
We shall miss some of their ‘own brand’ staples – especially their tea, coffee, sweets, chocolate and biscuits! But from the point of view of running our stall in the Shrewsbury Indoor Market, we have already been using other Fairtrade suppliers, and we will build this up as time goes on. Traidcraft have very helpfully put a list of their suppliers on their website, and we will be exploring those that are new to us.
There has always been a sense of split loyalty: do we buy from the Market Stall, or do we buy from supermarkets, to encourage them to stock Fairtrade? That is, after all one of our aims. We would encourage you to do whichever you can – and, of course, support our many excellent independent outlets that stock Fairtrade goods. We will continue to run the stall because we believe that by having a stall in what has again been voted Britain’s favourite Market, we are encouraging new people to see the variety of Fairtrade goods available, and perhaps providing opportunities to have a conversation to explain why they make such a difference to the producers’ lives.
More than anything, at what is a difficult time for everyone, we would simply urge you to continue to support Fairtrade as you are able.
By Meriel Chippindale
**As you may know, anything that carries the Faitrade logo has been through the Fairtrade Foundation’s system which guarantees that producers have not only been paid an agreed fair price, but also added a “Fairtrade Premium”, which the producers could spend in any way they felt would improve their community: maybe providing a school, a health centre, or a water pump in their village.