All’s fair…

Retailers got busy for Fairtrade Fortnight (24 February-9 March), organising window displays, tastings and a host of events to flag up this year’s Make Bananas Fair campaign.

Claire Humphreys from Archie Browns, which has stores in Penzance and Truro, was one store that made the most of the event. “Across our two stores and our website we put together three Fairtrade hampers for people to win. They could enter online to win one by saying why it was that they bought Fairtrade, and the other two were in store where people got an entry to win a hamper for every Fairtrade purchase they made. We also did testers, and our café made all sorts of things out of Fairtrade products including some lovely quesadillas with Fairtrade black beans. We had lots of samples of Fairtrade chocolate and energy bars – we did loads!”

Matt Lamb from Down to Earth in Hove joined in the event with a window display using a mixture of handmade materials and retailer materials provided by the Fairtrade Foundation. “All our Fairtrade products are separate when they’re in the shop normally, but we’ve got the front window showing most of the stuff we stock. We’ve got about 50 Fairtrade products: mainly teas, coffees, rice and dried fruits.”

Lamb says that to some extent it’s like preaching to the converted in the area his shop is in. “But it’s all about keeping the Fairtrade thing going because it’s been increasing so much from all the figures I’ve read. Unlike organic, which struggled for two or three years, Fairtrade has continued to go up because of its ethical stance, and people don’t necessarily associate Fairtrade with a much higher expense either. The perception of Fairtrade is a real bonding one for most people in that they know what they’re doing, they know they’re not going to pay through the nose for it, but they are really helping people to lift themselves out of some sort of measure of poverty where they are – certainly get a fairer price for whatever they’re producing.”

Humphreys notes: “What was really interesting was the amount of children who really recognized what it was all about – I think that’s partly because they do projects at school. It was the children who were ultra aware of it actually. That was very interesting.”

The growth of Fairtrade does indeed seem unstoppable, with sales of Fairtrade products rising again in 2013 to reach an estimated £1.78 billion, a 14% increase compared to 2012.

“It’s 20 years since the very first Fairtrade products Green & Black’s Maya Gold, Cafédirect Coffee and Clipper Tea, appeared in the UK and the appetite for Fairtrade is still growing, despite challenging economic conditions. The UK is truly a world leader for Fairtrade and we’re proud of that,” says Michael Gidney, chief executive of the Fairtrade Foundation

He adds: “But there is still a very long way to go in securing the levels of market access that would drive the breadth and depth of impact for farmers and workers we all want to see, so work in 2014 will continue to focus on innovating the way we work and campaigning to make even more trade fair.

The last word goes to Humpreys: “If we had our way we’d make sure everything was Fairtrade.”