What exactly is Fairtrade?
When I was at school I remember some men visiting with lots of chocolate to tell us about Fairtrade. From what I remember they were trying to educate us and raise awareness of the little-known Fairtrade brand. In the 90s nobody seemed to care much about what was in food and how it was produced. At the age of 11 I remember thinking that it wasn’t really relevant to me. That perhaps they should be educating parents instead of children, because my parents bought our food for us. But I do still remember that class and now I’m an adult I buy my own chocolate. Plus lots for my business!
You can find out more about Fairtrade on their website here: https://www.fairtrade.org.uk/What-is-Fairtrade/What-Fairtrade-does
What has Fairtrade achieved in the last 26 years?
It’s been a great cause and it’s now so mainstream most people are aware of Fairtrade. Undoubtedly many people will have altered their buying habits to choose the more ethical Fairtrade options. When huge companies vow to only use Fairtrade ingredients it has to have a significant positive impact on the industry. So that’s all good! Banana, coffee and cocoa farmers have benefited from being paid fairly. But in 2018 is this enough..?
How has Fairtrade failed?
I’m not sure about you, but I could live without bananas. There are plenty of other products that I need more in my life. Avocados are one of the big ones. Why has Fairtrade never helped any other industries in need of some support?
Additionally I would argue that sustainability is more important than how much a farmer is paid. Or at least equally important. Fairtrade has a specific goal but it hasn’t adapted or acknowledged that the world needs more help than their 20-something year old mission. Basically, Fairtrade is out of date and no longer relevant.
What is better than Fairtrade?
If you’re wondering what UTZ is, it’s the organisation that you’ll find on the labels of Aldi, Lidl and Ikea products including coffee, cocoa and tea. What’s great about Rainforest Alliance & UTZ is they not only help farmers and workers but they focus on sustainability. This solves a much bigger and longer term problem.
Cocoa life is another logo you will find on certain brands of chocolate. Cocoa life also supports the wider issues of sustainability and environment. However Cocoa life is a huge corporation’s own initiative so I can’t help but feel it will be less transparent and innocent in it’s mission and goals.
Lots of food and drink producers are ditching Fairtrade and being criticised for it but they generally are creating their own “better” version of Fairtrade. The new initiatives aim to solve sustainability issues (Sainsburys and Pukka Herbs are great examples of this).
Ultimately Fairtrade WAS a fantastic thing.
Perhaps Fairtrade will adapt in the future, but right now I would encourage you to check labels before you buy and look for one of the names mentioned here or something similar. If a product says nothing about Fairtrade, UTZ, Rainforest Alliance or any other reference to ethical sourcing, try not to buy it and opt for one that does.
Paying farmers fairly is great, but creating sustainable farming is better. And please, can someone sort out the avocado industry?!
If you’d like any ethical logo branded baked goods for your events or special occasions check out our online shop here 😀