FREE TRADE ‘A MYTH THAT’S HAD ITS DAY’, SAYS FAIRTRADE CEO AS FAIRTRADE MARK TURNS 20

Fairtrade sugar farmer in Malawi

From labelling to enabling: new initiatives to champion women farmers, help businesses to deepen impact for producers, and boost sales of Fairtrade sugar, cocoa and cotton

 

At a conference being held in London today (15 October) to celebrate 20 years of the FAIRTRADE Mark in the UK, Michael Gidney, Chief Executive of the Fairtrade Foundation, will say that after the banking crisis, the horsemeat scandal, the Rana Plaza factory disaster, and nearly 285,000 farmer suicides in India since 1995, the idea of ‘free trade’ has been exposed as “a myth that’s had its day”, which only benefits a powerful few at the expense of the many.

Pointing to slavery as the worst example of supply chain exploitation, Mr Gidney will reflect on the remarkable growth of Fairtrade over the last two decades – UK sales were estimated at £1.73bn in 2013 – and say that by acting together, consumers, companies, campaigners and governments have the power to make trade fairer and transform lives.

He will announce a number of new initiatives that reflect Fairtrade’s increasingly broad focus “from labelling to enabling”, including a new project to champion women coffee farmers in East Africa, grants for ethical businesses to help them deliver improvements for farmers and workers, and new programmes to boost sales of Fairtrade sugar, cocoa and cotton.

Also speaking at the ‘Fair Future’ conference event, which will be chaired by ethical journalist and broadcaster Lucy Siegle, TV presenter and businessman, Nick Hewer, who recently returned from visiting Fairtrade banana farmers in the Windward Islands, will encourage businesses to take a responsible view of their relationships with their suppliers, saying: “Supermarkets need to build up a reservoir of goodwill with their customers and seeing Fairtrade in store brings that goodwill and even affection.”

A recorded message from HRH The Prince of Wales, offering his warmest congratulations on the 20th anniversary of the FAIRTRADE Mark, will be broadcast to more than 300 delegates including business leaders, politicians, NGOs, campaigners, and farmer representatives from Africa and Latin America, who will come together to discuss how to create a fairer future and deliver lasting change for farmers, workers, their families and communities.

International Development Secretary, Justine Greening, will say: "The power of Fairtrade, championed by some of Britain's best brands, is undeniable. It is influencing how businesses work in developing countries and transforming the lives of the world's poorest people. DFID investment of £18 million over six years in Fairtrade, will open up markets in more hard to reach places and on top of that, break down trade barriers faced by women. Enabling the world's poorest people to get a fair price for what they produce helps end poverty and also creates tomorrow's new markets for us to trade with."

Along with consumers and campaigners, companies have played a key role in supporting the growth of Fairtrade in the UK. Global brands including Ben & Jerry’s and Starbucks Coffee Company will speak at the event about their commitment to trading fairly. Mark Price, Managing Director, Waitrose, and Deputy Chairman, The John Lewis Partnership, will say: "There are countless people across the globe who owe Fairtrade the greatest possible debt. Waitrose shares with Fairtrade its principles of community development, collaboration and long term sustainability. We look forward to continuing to work with Fairtrade to ensure a fairer future for all."

Reflecting on the impact that has been delivered by Fairtrade, Chief Adam Tampuri, Ghanaian cashew nut farmer and Chair of Fairtrade Africa, will say: “Over the last 20 years, the Fairtrade movement has made a significant different to farmers and workers around the world, through the payment of a fair price, a premium that can be invested in businesses and communities, and the empowerment that comes from being able to work towards a more sustainable future. Producers now own 50% of the Fairtrade system, which means that people in the south are not just beneficiaries, but co-owners. There is much to celebrate, but also much more to do, to unlock more of the benefits of Fairtrade, and extend its reach, so that greater impact can be achieved over the next 20 years and beyond.”

John Steel, CEO of Cafédirect, the event’s headline sponsor, says: “As the UK’s first and largest 100% Fairtrade hot drinks brand, Cafédirect has been a strong supporter of Fairtrade since the very beginning. 20 years later, we celebrate the achievements of the Fairtrade movement so far and commit to promoting an even fairer future, where business is used as a force for good to change lives and build communities.”

Fairtrade Foundation will thank Cafédirect, and sponsors Oikocredit, Oxfam and Shared Interest, for their valuable support for the Fairtrade movement.

Twenty years ago, the FAIRTRADE Mark appeared on just three products: Green & Black’s Maya Gold chocolate, Cafedirect medium roast coffee, and Clipper tea. Today, the FAIRTRADE Mark is the most widely-known ethical label in the world and UK shoppers can now choose from over 4,500 Fairtrade products including tea, coffee, cocoa, chocolate, bananas, sugar, cotton, gold jewellery, cut flowers, wine and cosmetics.

Fairtrade benefits 1.4m farmers and workers in more than 70 developing countries, by ensuring they receive a fair, stable price for their produce, better working conditions, and a Fairtrade Premium that can be invested in their business or in projects that will benefit their community, such as classrooms, clinics, clean drinking water or climate adaptation programmes.

The UK is the world’s largest Fairtrade market, and in 2013 UK shoppers bought an estimated £1.7bn of Fairtrade products, which resulted in over £26m of Fairtrade Premiums being paid to producers.

– ENDS –

The special message from HRH Prince Charles can be viewed after the ceremony at: www.youtube.com/user/Fairtradefoundation/videos but journalists are kindly requested by Clarence House not to make reference to its content in their media coverage.

A short film featuring Nick Hewer on his visit to banana farmers in St Lucia can be viewed at:
https://vimeo.com/108579928 (with music) or https://vimeo.com/108581974 (without music, password: FT2014).

A timeline image is available, which shows key milestones during 20 years of the FAIRTRADE Mark in the UK including big brand switches to Fairtrade and other major events.

For more information, images or a spokesperson, please contact:

Eileen Maybin

Head of Media Relations

020 7440 7686/07770 957 451

eileen.maybin@fairtrade.org.uk

Martine Parry

Media and PR Manager

020 7440 7695

martine.parry@fairtrade.org.uk

Nicola Frame

Media and PR Manager

020 7440 8597

nicola.frame@fairtrade.org.uk

 

Anna Galandzij

Press Officer

020 7440 7692

anna.galandzij@fairtrade.org.uk

 

 

Notes to Editors

The Fairtrade Foundation is an independent certification body which licenses the use of the FAIRTRADE Mark on products which meet international Fairtrade standards. This independent consumer label appears on products to show that disadvantaged producers are getting a better deal from trade. Today, more than 1.4 million people – farmers and workers – across more than 70 developing countries benefit from the international Fairtrade system.

Over 4,500 products have been licensed to carry the FAIRTRADE Mark including coffee, tea, herbal teas, chocolate, cocoa, sugar, bananas, grapes, pineapples, mangoes, avocados, apples, pears, plums, grapefruit, lemons, oranges, satsumas, clementines, mandarins, lychees, coconuts, dried fruit, juices, smoothies, biscuits, cakes & snacks, honey, jams & preserves, chutney & sauces, rice, quinoa, herbs &  spices, seeds, nuts & nut oil, wines, beers, rum, confectionary, muesli, cereal bars, yoghurt, ice-cream, flowers, sports balls, sugar body scrub and cotton products including clothing, homeware, cloth toys, cotton wool, olive oil, gold, silver and platinum.

Public awareness of the FAIRTRADE Mark continues to be high in 2013, at a level of 77%. Estimated retail sales of Fairtrade products in 2013 reached £1.73 billion. Global sales were Euros 5,500,317,789 in 2013, a 15 percent increase on Euros 4,786,772,862 in 2012.

About headline sponsor, Cafédirect
At Cafedirect, we believe that the best products start with the best growers, sourcing exclusively from smallholder growers in the finest coffee, tea and cocoa growing regions in the world! We reinvest at least one third of our profits into these grower communities, on top of the Fairtrade premiums we pay for the crops. To date, we have invested over 50% of our profits back into the 40 producer organisations we support across 14 countries!

What’s more, our growers are at the very heart of our business. Two of our producers sit on our Board, while 89% of the growers are shareholders, and therefore direct beneficiaries of the success of the business.

Our strong relationship with our growers, as well as their expertise, care and attention are reflected in the quality of our products, ensuring that we always receive the pick of the crop and offer our customers an award-winning range. For more information visit: www.cafedirect.co.uk

About sponsor, Oikocredit
Oikocredit is an ethical way to invest your savings and lend someone like Mercy Zaah - a Fairtrade cocoa producer - the money she needs to build her business support her family, sustain her community and help protect the planet.

For nearly 40 years, Oikocredit’s social enterprise partners have give entrepreneurs like Mercy, and people like her, our backing and belief in over 60 countries around the world. In return they have delivered a 2% return to Oikocredit's 52 000 investors nearly every year since 1989.

It’s an investment that pay backs far more than just money. It’s an investment in fairness; in justice; in feeling good about where your money goes. For more information visit: www.oikocredit.org.uk

About sponsor, Shared Interest
Shared Interest is an ethical investment organisation, forming the vital link between UK social investors and fair trade organisations needing finance to improve their livelihoods. Founded in 1990, the organisation is owned by its members who invest between £100 and £100,000 in Share Accounts. With its headquarters based in Newcastle upon Tyne, Shared Interest has international offices in Costa Rica, Kenya, Ghana, and Peru. Shared Interest lends funds to fair trade buyer and producer organisations. The majority of lending is made to buyer organisations in Europe and North America. This helps the organisation reach producers in more remote areas across the globe that may not be able to lend directly. Shared Interest lends money in an unsecured manner, making payments to over 350 producer groups across 53 countries. For more information visit www.shared-interest.com

About sponsor, Oxfam
Oxfam is a global humanitarian, development and campaigning organisation working with others to overcome poverty and suffering. Since its Oxford-based beginnings in 1942 it has grown into a worldwide force and is now a confederation (Oxfam International) with 17 members, working in over 90 countries on a diverse range of projects, from providing emergency water sources to supporting community health projects.

Oxfam has one million supporters in the UK and nearly 700 high street shops selling donated fashion, books, music, and homewares, and new ethical products. It is supported by a workforce of 23,000 volunteers. Oxfam launched the UK’s first online charity shop in 2007. For every £1 donated to Oxfam's general funds, 84p is spent on emergency, development and campaigning work, 9p is spent on support and governance and 7p is invested to generate future income.

Oxfam started practising a form of fair trade in the 1960s, when it sold crafts in its UK shops made by Chinese refugees in Hong Kong, under the brand Helping by Selling. The range expanded to crafts and foods from Africa, Asia and Latin America, and in 1992 we were proud to be a co-founder of The Fairtrade Foundation. In 2013, Oxfam sold £1.6 million of Fairtrade branded products in Oxfam shops. Our suppliers include Fair Trade brands like Cafedirect, Divine, Traidcraft, Zaytoun, Liberation and others.

Oxfam GB is affiliated to Oxfam International, a global confederation of 17 independent Oxfams which share the same purpose. For more information visit www.oxfam.org.uk