As the originator of Fairtrade Fortnight, the Fairtrade Foundation deserves a special mention this week.
When Fairtrade launched in 1992 they were pioneering. They exposed the extent to which small scale producers were penalised and marginalised by conventional trading systems, and they put ethics and environmental standards back on the agenda. Although there are now many other schemes, all with their own pros and cons, the logo of the Fairtrade Foundation is the one most readily recognised in this country and most instantly associated with the concept of fair trading.
Fairtrade demands companies pay their producers a Fairtrade Minimum Price to cover cost of production, as well as a Fairtrade Premium which is paid to the growers’ cooperative in order that they can invest in business or community projects of their choosing. Both the company and the producers must meet a set social, economic and environmental standard in order for them to use the Fairtrade label – standards which are regularly inspected independently.
The organisation started ‘Fairtrade Fortnight’ in 1995 and since then it has been an annual event which has served to bring together campaigners, businesses and producers to raise awareness of trade justice. Fairtrade Fortnight takes place during two weeks over February and March each year and each year has a different theme.
Their theme for this year’s event is "Choose Fairtrade now and help save our favourite foods" - with a focus on both producer livelihoods and climate change. They point out that cocoa, bananas and coffee could soon be much more difficult to find on our shelves. Climate change is making crops like these harder and harder to grow and when this is combined with deeply unfair trade, communities growing these crops are being pushed to the brink.
To find out more, please visit https://www.fairtrade.org.uk/
By the way, for anyone who’s wondered (as I did):
The familiar Fairtrade mark means that the product has been produced to Fairtrade standards.
The newer mark you may have seen appearing means that the named ingredient is produced to Fairtrade standards.