Fairtrade sales now benefit 1.5MN producers

Fairtrade International’s recently published 2014-2015 report Global Change, Local Leadership, has revealed that one and a half million farmers and workers in 74 countries are benefitting from increased sales of Fairtrade products.

In 2014, consumers spent €5.9 billion on products carrying the Fairtrade Mark. The year saw significant increases in retail sales volumes in key product categories, with cotton up 28% and cocoa up 24%. Sales of Fairtrade gold were up 259% largely due to a revised model enabling goldsmiths to purchase more Fairtrade gold.

According to Fairtrade’s recent satisfaction survey, 93% of Fairtrade producers are happy with the support services they receive but the survey highlighted producers’ continuing need for increased support in accessing markets for their products.

One way to address this, says the organization, is by building opportunities for producers to sell their Fairtrade products in local markets. In 2015, Brazil became the fourth producer country to launch a Fairtrade Marketing Organization, and consumers in the country can now purchase home-grown Fairtrade coffee and honey.

The report also says that last year the Fairtrade Access Fund loaned €11.1 million to small producer organizations to help connect them with the services needed to strengthen their businesses, and the organization also supported cooperatives with mentoring and training on financial management.

Harriet Lamb, chief executive of Fairtrade International, commented: “When Fairtrade burst onto farmers’ fields and shop shelves 25 years ago, it was bold. Today we still nurture that innovative energy to ensure that Fairtrade is responding to the ever-growing challenges that small-scale farmers and workers face.”

She added: “The problems faced by poor farmers and workers result from centuries of marginalization and exploitation. Fairtrade can help narrow the gap between rich and poor, and to change a global food system that exploits both people and planet, but there are no quick-fix solutions. Real change will only happen when the voices of smallholder farmers and workers are heard – and acted upon – at the highest levels of government and commerce.”