Fairtrade products are all over the UK. In the States, you may only hear about these products when you are looking for them or in health food stores. They are not mainstream yet, but in the UK, Fairtrade is growing bigger and bigger by the year. This came as a surprise to me because the English do not seem to care about the quality of their food or where it comes from. Evidently, I was quite wrong.
The Fairtrade Foundation, for those that are not aware is a nonprofit foundation that encourages small-scale farmers usually in underdeveloped countries to take control of their product and improve their quality of life in doing so. The foundation protects the rights of workers so that they may be safe and healthy at work, while ensuring freedom of association, no discrimination and no illegal child labor. The Secretary of State for International Development said, “Trade drives growth which in turn creates jobs and wealth in communities. Through trade we can help people to pull themselves out of poverty. Ensuring farmers and other producers get a fair price for their produce and effort is central to this.”
Fairtrade prices its products such that the costs of sustainable production are affordable and possible for the producer. This eliminates the anxiety caused by a drop in revenue due to a sudden drop in demand of the product so the producer can maintain production confidently. The confidence of the producer reduces the chances of his or her product or company to be exploited by major industries.
The foundation certifies these small farms and creates premiums to give to farmers to give to their workers to use however they feel would be most beneficial. The premium can only be used for the benefit of the workers, whether that is economically, socially, or for the benefit of their families and community. This gives the famers some stability knowing that their workers are getting the money they need to take care of themselves and their families, and the farmer does not have to worry if he or she cannot afford to pay them.
London is one of 750 cities worldwide that uses Fairtrade in municipal purchasing, schools and retail outlets. Products that have received the Fairtrade seal and thus follow the demands of the foundation have experienced a 40% growth each year for the past five years. This shows that consumers in the UK are paying attention to this seal which is quite exciting. Hopefully the United States will soon follow suit.