Wimbledon is the most British of events, while attracting top talent from all over the world. And among the international attractions this year is a delicious Fairtrade Rosé wine, KleineRuste, undoubtedly a great serve.
The wine comes from the Stellenrust family-owned Fairtrade wine producers in South Africa, located in the rolling foothills of the Helderberg – meaning ‘clear mountains’ - in the Western Cape.
Whichever players win the Wimbledon crowns this year, KleineRuste has already scored valuable points for its country through its presence at this iconic event.
The success of the high quality brand is one small indicator of the growth of Fairtrade in South Africa and, indeed, in some of the positive changes happening in a country which is celebrating twenty years since the end of Apartheid rule.
Global sales of Fairtrade wine grew by 27% last year, with more than twenty million litres of wine sold. Two thirds of all Fairtrade wine comes from South Africa which puts the country at the helm of ethical and sustainable wine grape production.
This, of course, means benefits for the workers at Fairtrade certified farms. At Stellenrust, Fairtrade premium money is being used to construct a children’s centre which is part crèche for the workers children and part after school computer lab, helping the older children with their homework.
The Head of the Fairtrade Workers Committee Bonnie Heneke is delighted with this development. “With hard work comes rewards,” she says, “And we see these rewards more and more, both on the farm and in the wine we produce. Fairtrade improves our workers lives on the farm and we can see a bright future for us and our children.”
Stellenrust also supplied wines to the London Olympics and the premium raised through these sales completed another important project, a food kitchen. “Making sure that our kids eat a healthy and nutritious diet is quite a challenge, since their parents spend a lot of time at work on the farm. At the new kitchen, they have breakfast, make lunch boxes for school and come for something to eat afterwards. It makes a great difference to our lives and theirs,” says Heneke.
There are other benefits too. On some other farms, workers can’t afford to keep their children at school, but at Stellenrust they ensure they are educated. Fairtrade training courses have made workers much more aware of their rights. Fairtrade labour standards ensure that health and safety requirements are met. Farmers used to pay their workers what they wanted; now the workers know there is a minimum salary and are paid above that. The workers also own a 51% share in 100 hectares of the farm, a great investment for their future.
As well as wine, South Africa also produces Fairtrade grapes, citrus fruits, apples, pears, plums, lychees, mangos, avocados, rooibos tea and raisins. There are 7,500 farmers and workers in 38 producer organisations directly benefiting from Fairtrade and 37,000 benefiting indirectly.
Other Fairtrade premium projects in South Africa include pension schemes, mentorship programmes, old age homes, housing, solar panels, community vegetable gardens, alcohol abuse programmes and health schemes.
Lynsay Sampson from Fairtrade South Africa is optimistic about the future. “We are seeing South African small-scale farmers and workers choosing Fairtrade in a bid to improve living and working conditions in the agricultural sector, helping us to achieve our shared goal of a more equal and sustainable Africa,” she says.
But Fairtrade in South Africa is not simply a matter of export to richer countries. South Africa was the first country to both produce and consume Fairtrade products. Sales of products carrying the FAIRTRADE Mark in 2013 were ZAR287 million, up 22% from the year before. There is increased commitment from businesses and consumers. Fairtrade labelled products have been granted more shelf space by retailers such as Pick n Pay while the procurement industry reached out to Fairtrade, with both the Protea Hospitality Group and South African Airways switching to Fairtrade products.
“There is a long way to go but Fairtrade has made great strides in South Africa, in our work with farmers and workers who are exporting their produce and in starting up a Fairtrade market for consumers over here,” says Lynsay Sampson. “We want to introduce new products and encourage new producer groups and we are looking forward to a bright future.”