A FAIR START TO THE DAY
Fairtrade Fortnight 2016 and Big Fairtrade Breakfasts.
There are more than 1.5 million farmers and workers in 74 countries around the world who are certified Fairtrade. That’s a lot of chocolate, bananas and coffee. But there’s more to Fairtrade than the stickers you see on your supermarket shelves.
To celebrate the start of Fairtrade Fortnight on February 29th and its Big Breakfast theme, we spoke to Kate Lewis, Head of Product Management for The Fairtrade Foundation UK to find out more about the organisation’s vision and what happens in the two-week event.
Kate and the rest of the UK commercial team’s remit is to work with UK businesses to help drive sales within Fairtrade categories by making the full range of products available for people to buy by engaging businesses to increase their range and supermarkets to stock Fairtrade. She joined The Fairtrade Foundation after quitting her sales career and travelling the world. During that time she met farmers and workers who were involved in Fairtrade and saw the difference that it made to their lives first-hand.
Fairtrade is now a truly global movement and the UK is the biggest market within the EU. It has changed radically since the first Fairtrade supply chains were introduced after the second World War and largely sold handicrafts. Agricultural products were next from the late 1980s. Café Direct was the first mainstream brand that caught people’s attention in the UK with a good quality, medium-priced Fairtrade coffee.
Set up 21 years ago, the vision of The Fairtrade Foundation is to reduce poverty through trade. Small-scale farmers and producers are incredibly vulnerable to a range of challenges from unstable prices and the imbalance of power within supply chains to climate change and gender inequality. So the international organisations work to address these by setting standards, creating transparency and most importantly empowering and equipping producers to create their own development plans. The Fairtrade mark is the sticker that you see on products which is much more than a logo. It tells you that the product you’re buying has met international Fairtrade standards. And it seems to be working as 83% of consumers now say they trust the mark.
Whilst most of us know Fairtrade products as bananas, coffee, tea and chocolate there are some new categories gaining popularity. Flowers are on the rise as are sales of Fairtrade wine which toasted a 9% rise in sales year on year in 2015.
Kate’s predictions for 2016 include the rise in new products such as gold and cotton as interest is growing from businesses in those sectors. One of the main reasons why Lemonaid launched in the UK was due to the understanding amongst people here of the genuine power of Fairtrade to change lives for the better. Interestingly some of the big producer countries such as South Africa, India, Kenya and Brazil are now introducing Fairtrade products for people to buy which shows just how far the movement has come.
Fairtrade Fortnight is the centrepiece of The Fairtrade Foundation’s drive to grow awareness and knowledge and more importantly, the chance for businesses and people to get involved. This year we’re all being asked to ‘sit down for breakfast and stand up for farmers’. During the fortnight, campaigners will be encouraged to hosts breakfasts which obviously feature many of the popular Fairtrade products, and wake others up to the challenges facing farmers and workers. Several thousands will take place up and down the country organised by volunteers. Visit the website for more information at www.fairtrade.org.uk