On Friday 21 February, BBC Farming Today aired a short preview for BBC Radio 4’s Food Programme which will be broadcast on Sunday, looking at Fairtrade 20 years from the launch of the FAIRTRADE Mark.
The preview said that the programme would cover the introduction of a new initiative into the global Fairtrade system called Fairtrade Sourcing Programs for cocoa, sugar and cotton. This was launched on 27 January by Fairtrade International to enable small farmers of these commodities to scale up their sales on Fairtrade terms. Already nine companies in Germany, Switzerland and Japan have commitments to increase purchases of Fairtrade cocoa and cotton as a result.
You can find full information about Fairtrade Sourcing Programs, why they were launched, and how they will work in practice here.
At the launch of Fairtrade Sourcing Programs, Fortin Bley, a cocoa producer from the cooperative CANN in Cote d’Ivoire told the BBC that in his country producer organisations that are certified Fairtrade are still only selling on average 16% of their total cocoa production on Fairtrade terms, due to lack of market access. Globally, we estimate cocoa farmers sell just 28% of all available certified cocoa on Fairtrade terms. However, in recent years, a growing number of companies have announced commitments to source up to 100% of their raw commodities including cocoa, sugar and cotton sustainably, , offering a major new opportunity for farmers to sell on Fairtrade terms. Some of these companies are not seeking to certify or label an end product, they simply wish to purchase sustainable or Fairtrade cocoa and include it across their manufacturing.
Therefore Fairtrade Sourcing Programs have been specifically designed to provide a commodity-based purchasing approach that connects producers to this new market, enabling higher sales on Fairtrade terms, and greater impact for farmers and their communities as a result. There is no requirement to label products at all under the new programme, whilst those wishing to communicate on products are required to use a different label from the current FAIRTRADE Mark. Effectively what this offers is a second way for producers and companies to do business together on Fairtrade terms, in addition to product certification and labelling with the FAIRTRADE Mark, which requires buying all that can be Fairtrade certified on Fairtrade terms.
Whilst many European markets are now moving quickly ahead to launch the new Fairtrade Sourcing Program, here in the UK we are conducting further preparatory work in 2014 in order to make sure we introduce this new innovation in the right way, recognising the very high levels of public trust in the FAIRTRADE Mark and the wide range of products that carry our current label. Therefore it is unlikely that this will become visible to UK shoppers before 2015.
Fairtrade’s vision and mission is to improve the livelihoods and futures for farmers and workers by promoting fairer terms of trade, empowering producers to combat poverty, strengthen their position in world markets and take more control of their lives. Fairtrade Sourcing Programs simply open up a second way, complementary to product certification under the FAIRTRADE Mark, for farmers to sell more of their crops on Fairtrade terms, and get more companies to make bigger, long-term commitments to trading fairly with the producers of the commodities they buy.
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