The Fairtrade Foundation
The Fairtrade Foundation is a charity set up by volunteers and is based in the United Kingdom. It works to empower disadvantaged producers in developing countries by tackling injustice in conventional trade, in particular by promoting and licensing the Fairtrade Mark, a guarantee that products retailed in the UK have been produced in accordance with internationally agreed Fairtrade standards. The Foundation is the British member of FLO (Fairtrade International), which unites 23 Fairtrade producer and labelling initiatives across Europe, Asia, Latin America, North America, Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
Fairtrade is giving the farmers the money they deserve instead of keeping the rest for themselves.
How is it unique? and why should I pay slightly more for something?
Most of the products found in any supermarket originate from all over the world anyway, because supermarkets seek to maximise their profits by taking advantage of the lower prices found around the world (caused by a variety of reasons), which is equivalent to something like greed and only serves their own interests, it neither supports the producers nor does it promote a certain future for them.
Fairtrade offers the stability rural families need to plan for the future. The alternative for many is to move to already overcrowded towns and cities to find other sources of income.
While other schemes aim to ‘protect the environment’ or ‘enable companies to trace their coffee’, Fairtrade’s focus is to support farmers and workers to improve the quality of their lives and take more control over their futures.
Which can equate to a better quality product by way of logic.
It works to benefit the most marginalised in the global trade system – small-scale farmers and workers. For certain products, such as coffee, cocoa, cotton and rice, it only certifies small farmer organisations. By favouring democratic organisations of small farmers.
Fairtrade is the only certification scheme whose purpose is to tackle poverty (through the Fairtrade price and premium) and empower farmers and workers in developing countries to take a more active role in global supply chains. Fairtrade delivers unique benefits to producers, businesses and consumers. At an international level, it is part owned by farmers and workers, who sit on the Board and participate in decision making.
Where can I buy these products and support small scale farmers and workers around the world?
Fairtrade certified products are widely available today in the United Kingdom, and in 2006, there were over 2000 Fairtrade product lines available in the country. Products carrying the Fairtrade label can be found at vendors like Asda, Budgens, Booths, Co-op, Londis, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons and Safeway, Sainsbury's, Somerfield, Spar, Tesco, Waitrose as well as in hundreds of coffee shops, small retailers and online merchants.
To become certified Fairtrade producers, the primary cooperative and its member farmers must operate to certain political standards, imposed from Europe. FLO-CERT, the for-profit side, handles producer certification, inspecting and certifying producer organisations in more than 50 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
Are Fairtrade products traceable unlike other products found in any supermarket?
Yes, For most Fairtrade products including bananas, fresh fruit, coffee, flowers, nuts, rice, spices and others, the Fairtrade system requires these products to be physically traceable. This means they must be labelled and kept separate at every stage of their journey from the farm to the shop shelves. However, when we attempted to introduce similar rules for products such as cocoa, sugar, tea and juice, we discovered that there is very little physical traceability in the way these sectors work.
For example, the chocolate industry is currently not always able to keep Fairtrade cocoa and non-Fairtrade cocoa separate at every stage of production from the cocoa field to the final bar. Cocoa beans are delivered in bulk by farmers and routinely mixed during shipping and in the manufacturing process.
Rather than ruling out these sectors and losing Fairtrade sales opportunities for thousands of small farmers, Fairtrade has set up a system to ensure that manufacturers that want to use the FAIRTRADE Mark must buy the precise amount of produce they need from Fairtrade farmers that will be used in their final product. This system is known as ‘mass balance’.
So, if a chocolate bar uses 500 tonnes of cocoa, then the manufacturer must purchase 500 tonnes of cocoa on Fairtrade terms, including the payment of an additional $200 Fairtrade Premium per tonne. This means that even if the beans are later mixed with non-Fairtrade beans - as often happens - Fairtrade cocoa farmers still get 100 per cent of the benefits, and the better deal that the FAIRTRADE Mark stands for.