Fairtrade celebrates 25th birthday since first products launched in UK

Celebrating the 25th anniversary since the first few FAIRTRADE Mark certified products were launched by Cafédirect, Clipper tea, Green & Black’s and Percol Coffee in 1994, the Fairtrade Foundation thanks the public for fighting for the rights of vulnerable people who are exploited by trade. Thanks to the demands of consumers  today there are around 5,000 Fairtrade-certified products on sale in the UK. 

Michael Gidney, Chief Executive of the Fairtrade Foundation, said: 

“Twenty-five years ago most companies paid little attention to the human cost of their business and most people were unaware of the poverty and degradation that was the reality of life for millions of farmers and workers around the world. Fairtrade set out to change that and put people and the planet before profit. Many said it couldn’t be done, but the public took Fairtrade to their hearts and into their shopping baskets from Day One. Together we led a revolution in the way food is traded. Millions around the world now benefit from fairer trading terms and better working conditions than would ever have been possible before.”

The growth of the market over 25 years has made Fairtrade the most visible ethical label in the UK, recognised by 9 out of 10 people and trusted by 84% of consumers.  In fact, the principles of fair treatment for the people in developing countries who work hard to produce food, cotton and other consumer goods is a personal value that 62% of Brits hold.  

Across five regions of the UK campaigners will be holding big ‘Make your Mark Count’ events and in addition to this thousands of Fairtrade communities, including churches, faith groups, schools and universities are throwing local birthday parties from Friday 4th October and celebrating the people behind some of Fairtrade’s most iconic products.

Thousands of people will also be highlighting the ongoing poverty experienced by millions of people who continue to lose out from trade, such as the cocoa farmers who earn as little as 74p per day. Since global market prices for cocoa and coffee crashed in 2017, the people who grow these crops have been receiving historically low returns and cannot pay for life’s basics. 

Michael Gidney adds: “Today Fairtrade products are widely available and our values have been embraced by some of the UK’s biggest businesses from Waitrose and the Co-op to Greggs and Ben & Jerry’s. This is an extraordinary beginning, but still millions of farmers and workers continue to face risks every day from climate change, price volatility and unscrupulous buyers. We must end this exploitation, which makes people poorer and the planet dirtier. It’s certain we will not achieve the UN Global Goals of ending poverty and ensuring sustainable production unless we do. This is a great challenge, but Fairtrade is proof of what is possible when millions of people pull together.”

The international Fairtrade movement was a reaction to the crises facing coffee farmers when the price they received for their crops collapsed. Despite the success of the global Fairtrade market, the problems facing farmers and workers around the world continue, which is why the organisation is campaigning for living incomes to become a reality for all farmers and workers. 


Editors’ Notes

In 1992 the Fairtrade Foundation was established by a group of charities including Oxfam, Traidcraft, two years later the following brands launched the first Fairtrade products in the UK in 1994:

• Cafêdirect sources 100% Fairtrade coffee, tea and hot chocolate from 13 countries and works directly with 18 coffee growing co-operatives. 
• Cafêdirect was founded by 4 UK charities in 1991 and today gives 50% of its profits directly to a farmer-led charity, Producers Direct, which supports over 600,000 farmers in improving the quality of their crops and their livelihoods.
• Cafédirect became the first UK coffee company to be B Corp certified in 2018. 

Clipper Tea
• Clipper Tea was the UK’s first and today is the world’s largest Fairtrade tea brand. 
• Clipper’s Fairtrade premium contributions actively support 114,000 tea producers and their families annually by investing in education, healthcare and topping up workers’ pension pots
• Clipper was the first brand to offer green tea to consumers in UK supermarkets and in 2018 Clipper introduced the world’s first plastic-free, non-GM & unbleached heat-sealed tea bag made from all plant-based materials 

Percol Coffee’s Fairtrade Story
• Since its launch in 1987, Percol Coffee has always been dedicated to supporting the farmers who grow its award-winning coffee beans. 
• Percol’s new campaign – “Coffee on a Mission” – is to be the most ethical and sustainable coffee company. Plastic-free. Carbon-neutral. Fairtrade-certified: http://www.percol.co.uk/coffee-on-a-mission/
• Percol was the first coffee brand to receive the ‘Plastic Free Trust Mark’ from A Plastic Planet, which now appears on their home compostable Ground, Beans and Coffee packaging

Green and Black’s 
• Green and Black’s became the first to launch a chocolate bar with the FAIRTRADE Mark on it with Maya Gold made with cocoa and spices from Belize 
• Today Green & Black’s Classic range is Fairtrade certified and is made with organic cocoa beans from the Dominican Republic.