500 words approx. 3-4 minutes to read.
It’s 25 years since Fairtrade launched in the UK and Co-op’s been there from the start. We began by stocking Cafédirect coffee in 1992 and it became one of our first Fairtrade products in 1994. We’ve championed Fairtrade ever since.
Our members have pioneered our support of Fairtrade and made sure through AGM motions, including one this year, that we are at the forefront of supporting Fairtrade.
We’re proud that all Co-op branded bananas, tea, coffee and cocoa are now Fairtrade, that we have the biggest selection of Fairtrade wine of any UK retailer and all our African roses are Fairtrade.
Fairtrade is at the heart of our future strategy and we’re committed to continuing to be one of Fairtrade’s greatest allies in helping farmers get a better deal and improving the lives of their families and communities.
Projects Fairtrade and Co-op have already helped
Our sugar cane producers have been trained, with the help of Fairtrade, to improve their social, economic and environmental conditions. The Fairtrade Premium has helped build parks for their children to play in and community centres have also been renovated.
Money from sales of our Fairtrade wine has helped build a community centre that’s now used by 450 people.
The Fairtrade Premium helped finance the Women’s School of Leadership, to enable female farmers to fight for equality in their communities.
Sales of our Fairtrade roses have funded medical facilities and classrooms in the Naivasha region and given children the chance to go to secondary school.
We’ve been able to support our banana producers with training in vocational skills and by helping some of the workers’ children to go to university. These are just a few stories from our producers, but there are many projects around the world we support.
Why is Fairtrade still important?
Imagine, as a farmer, not knowing from week to week what price you can get for what you sell? At the moment, this is the situation coffee producers find themselves in. Less than 4% are guaranteed a “fair price” and with every sale the farmers are now actually losing money. Around the world, 24 million coffee growing families will not get paid enough money for their crop to survive through to the next harvest.
But farmers who are Fairtrade-certified are guaranteed an independently set minimum price and premium, thus protecting their livelihoods through downturns in the market. If all roast and ground coffee bought was certified Fairtrade, £8.3m in Fairtrade premium (400 per cent increase), could be preventing these farmers from abandoning their livelihoods.
A Fairtrade price means everything to coffee growers, but costs us (the end consumer) very little – it’s less than 2 pence* per cup. That’s why it’s so shocking that not everyone buys and sells Fairtrade.
Why Fairtrade certification?
Fairtrade isn’t the only ethical certification, so why do we continue to support it over other certification schemes? And what’s the difference between Fairtrade and the others?
Fairtrade certification is the gold standard because it allows the farmers and workers the greatest say in how the organisation is run and a say in the decisions that affect them, rather than being dictated to by multinational corporations. Fairtrade also guarantees a minimum price and gives extra money into a communal fund (the Fairtrade Premium), which they can use as they see fit to improve their social, economic and environmental conditions.
Fairtrade remains the best and the only major independent global sustainability standard that puts people, price and power at the heart of what it does.
That’s why through our Future of Food ambition 2030 we’re committed to Fairtrade and everything it stands for. So, please continue to buy Fairtrade at your local Co-op, we know it means so much to you too.
What can you do?
Through the Fairtrade products you put in your shopping basket, you are improving lives and communities around the world. But the job isn’t done.
Will you pledge to make some small changes to ensure the next 25 years of Fairtrade can impact even more farmers and workers? This might be as simple as sharing a story you’ve heard, a video or even asking your favourite café or brand to go Fairtrade. You can also get involved with ideas on the Fairtrade Foundation website.
Together we can make a difference.
Retail Chief Commercial Officer
Read more about Co-op and Fairtrade:
- What is Fairtrade and how does it work?
- Buying Fairtrade saves lives, here’s how you can help
- Fairtrade won’t work if we continue to confuse customers
*Difference between market price ($1) and Fairtrade Price and Premium ($1.40 + 20c = $1.60) is $0.60 a pound. Market price 80p. Fairtrade price and premium £1.30 = 48p /pound