by Sr Janet Cooper
The following is taken from an article in the Moravian Messenger by Janet Cooper, chair of the Moravian Mission and Society Committee
I am sure you have all heard of Fairtrade – it celebrated its 25th anniversary in the UK in 2019. It may be tempting to believe that there is no longer any need to encourage Fairtrade but there are still many producers of goods which we all use on a daily basis who are not given a fair price for their products. All the information in this article is taken from the interesting and informative website www.fairtrade.org.uk. In this article, I will try to provide some basic facts about Fairtrade and why it is so important that we support it.
Fairtrade is a global movement for change with a vibrant presence in the UK which is represented by the Fairtrade Foundation (founded in 1992). Fairtrade is about ensuring better prices and good working conditions for farmers and workers in the developing world. Companies who use the FAIRTRADE mark on their products have paid an agreed fair price for the product to the producers. Companies pay a license fee to be able to use the mark – this fee helps to fund the Fairtrade Foundation. The foundation is also funded by individual and group donations and grants from organisations such as Comic Relief.
In order to be certified, producers must meet minimum social, economic and environmental requirements as well as demonstrating that they are continuously working to improve farmers’ organisations or estate workers’ circumstances.
There are over 4,500 Fairtrade certified products for sale in the UK – it is one of the world’s leading Fairtrade markets. Fairtrade standards exist for bananas (almost a third of bananas sold in the UK are Fairtrade), cocoa, coffee (47% of all Fairtrade farmers produce coffee), dried and fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, honey, juices, nuts/oil seeds/oil, quinoa, rice, spices, sugar, tea and wine – and that is just the food products. Many non-food products are also Fairtrade certified. Fairtrade products are found in supermarkets, independent shops, cafes and restaurants – and hopefully at our Church events!
Fairtrade products are also good for the environment – Fairtrade producers receive a financial premium (£169 million in 2020) in addition to the money they receive for their produce. They use some of this to invest in environmental protection programmes which contribute to mitigating the effects of climate change.
It cannot be right that people who work hard to produce goods for our consumption do not receive adequate income to support themselves and their communities. A survey published in 2019 showed that 82% of UK consumers cared about Fairtrade. Consumers – that’s you and me – can play a crucial role in ensuring that trade is fair. Ultimately, it is for each individual to decide what they buy and why – but buying Fairtrade can make a significant difference to many people’s lives.