Fairtrade, Fairtrade, Fairtrade
Many shops now are starting to market and sell Fairtrade products. Supermarkets, clothing shops, specialist shops, eBay; they’re all at it! It’s easy to see why because Fairtrade is one of the fastest growing global sales sectors. So the fact that Fairtrade can be found in more and more places must be a good thing right? It certainly can be. Fairtrade helps small farmers and producers all over the world to earn a decent living for the work they do, whether they are growers of food or makers of clothes. Fairtrade is a positive alternative to free trade markets where some manufactures do everything they can to ensure they get the lowest price possible. This can mean shifting factories to countries where workers have less legal rights. Sourcing labour through sweatshops, or enslaving the workers and damaging the land in order to maximise profits. Big companies often have more financial power than small countries, which makes it easy to see why this can happen. So going the Fairtrade route is definitely better.
On the shelves
However, there are several difficulties with the unprecedented expansion of Fairtrade. The volume that some retailers want for their outlets is massive compared to the output production of small farmers, so plantations production happens, which currently doesn’t fully support the workers with land ownership the way normal Fairtrade farming generally does. Also a few of the shops who have Fairtrade product lines still sell products which could be produced by less than fair means. Or on occasion Fairtrade products have greater mark-up to ensure the retailer keeps a high profit.
As a consumer Fairtrade is a good choice, we’ve made the choice here at the University, in the Union and all the food outlets. When you shop, try Fairtrade products from retailers who specialise in Fairtrade. When you do buy from large companies who stock some Fairtrade products but also stock products with less ethical origins, maybe you could mention to the retailers that you want to see more Fairtrade and you want to see less of the products that do not contribute to a fairer, safer, more sustainable future for all people across the world.