Fairtrade fortnight runs from 29th February to 13th March this year and has the theme of “Sit Down for Breakfast, Stand up for Farmers”. This first sprang from Martin Luther King’s famous saying “Before you finish eating breakfast in the morning, you’ve depended on more than half the world” highlighting how we, as consumers, take for granted those farmers and workers that produce the food we know and love. This simple act of having a Fairtrade Breakfast can help to support farmers and fight the issue of global food insecurity.
According to the Fairtrade Foundation, there are around 795 million undernourished people globally, many of who are likely to be the family of that same farmer.
For those of you that aren’t sure, ‘Fair-trade’ is about better prices, decent working conditions and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers.
Events such as this create the perfect opportunity for consumers to connect with the farmers and workers who grow the produce on which they depend. Buying products with the Fairtrade mark is only one way of showing support to these hardworking communities.
As a general rule, if a product is marketed as ‘Fairtrade’ it means that the ingredients within the product have been produced by a small-scale farmer organisation or plantation that meets the specific Fairtrade standard, whether it be social, economic or environmental. The main focus of these standards is to protect workers’ rights and the environment. Products such as bananas, tea and flowers however, require larger scale production units that employ larger numbers of workers. Focus here is made on workers’ basic rights including pay that progresses with living wage benchmarks, discrimination prevention and insurance of no illegal child labour.
Despite the tough retail landscape, major retailers are getting behind the Fairtrade mark. The simple reason being that the consumers want it, are becoming more ethically minded and want the products they buy to reflect that. Waitrose and The Cooperative are two of the larger retailers that have committed to working closely with Fairtrade this year.
In 2015, Fairtrade tea, coffee, cocoa and bananas all grew in volume, as wine and flowers witnessed double digit growth of 14% and 17% consecutively. This increased volume will lead to greater financial premiums for Fairtrade farmers and workers in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Caribbean.
The farmer and worker organisations themselves actually own 50% of the global Fairtrade system and it is these same people that decide how the Fairtrade Premium should be invested. The premium is the additional sum of money paid on top of the Fairtrade minimum price that farmers and workers receive which can be invested in social, environmental and economic developmental projects to improve their businesses and communities including schools, transport and healthcare.
To put the UK’s Fairtrade consumption in perspective, the nation munched on 5 million fair-trade bananas per day in 2015, 255 million more fair-trade coffees were drunk compared to 2014 and 21 million half dozen bouquets of flowers were received.
However, it’s not always a bed of roses. Unfortunately, the decline in the price of sugar in Europe has led to subsidised beet sugar replacing cane sugar. This in turn has impacted on 200,000 cane farmers’ livelihoods in developing countries by causing the volume of Fairtrade sugar to decline by 36% in 2015. This large volume fall impacted the entire Fairtrade results in 2015 and caused a decline to around £1.6 billion in 2015, from £1.7 billion in 2014. Without the negative impact of sugar, overall Fairtrade sales actually grew by an average 4% in volume and 1% in value.
Finally, the Fairtrade Foundation also have a new 2016-20 Strategy which they will be launching during the Fairtrade Fortnight this year, ‘Changing Trade, Changing Lives – Fairtrade Can, I Can’.
Visit www.fairtrade.org.uk/breakfast for more information on how to help this great cause.