Steve Evans gives insights into future priorities for the Fairtrade movement
‘And if you sell to your neighbour or buy from your neighbour, you shall not wrong one another.’ Leviticus 25 verse 14 RSV
When I wrote last April I gave a bit of a history of Traidcraft, which was celebrating its 40th year. But what does the future hold for fair trade? Traidcraft has announced several areas that it wants to move further into.
Firstly, quality. Some of you may remember the original Fairtrade coffee – Campaign coffee from Nicaragua. You needed strong principles to be able to drink that, and thankfully things have moved a long way forward since then. In 2019 a number of Traidcraft products were awarded Great Taste awards. These include various teas, honey and coconut milk.
Second, organic food. The Traidcraft CEO Robin Roth has written extensively about the need to preserve the quality of the soil that the fairtrade farmers grow on. One of the best ways to do this is to move to organic production – without good soil they simply won’t be able to supply the goods whatever price is offered. So Traidcraft are actively looking to broaden the organic content of their produce. This consideration of organic production is a part of a wider look at Traidcraft’s place in ethical spending, which also includes reducing plastics and sustainability.
Finally, Traidcraft has acknowledged that fairtrade principles should apply to UK-based producers, and indicated a desire to develop contacts for products here. For most of the history of fairtrade the emphasis has very much been on farmers in what used to be called the Third world/developing countries. But the buying power of the major supermarkets here has meant that dairy farmers in the UK have also had their margins squeezed, almost to the point where they cannot afford to continue. Now that it is certain that we are leaving the EU, we need UK producers to be successful, and it will be interesting to see how things develop on this front.
We can too easily think of fair trade being about helping poor people, but really it is how we should always go about our dealings with everyone.
I will be back at St Saviour’s with my Traidcraft stall on Sunday 2 February. Please do come along, take a look, and feel free to discuss any thoughts that the above article has given you. Also, Fairtrade Fortnight 2020 runs from 24 February to 8 March.
Steve Evans, Traidcraft stall