Fairtrade on the up
Rueters today reported that sales of Fairtrade products rose by 19 percent last year.
British consumers spent 1.57 billion pounds in 2012 on Fairtrade products, more than in any other country.
The certification body hopes to see UK sales of Fairtrade products top 2 billion pounds by 2015. Worldwide 2012 sales figures are not yet available but were up 12 percent to $6.6 billion in 2011.
Sainsbury's, Waitrose, Morrison and the Co-Op have switched to Fairtrade tea, sugar, coffee or bananas, while major brands like Maltesers, Kit Kat and Ben & Jerry's, following the lead of Cadbury's Dairy Milk, now carry the label in Britain.
The Fairtrade Foundation's latest campaign focuses on smallholders, family farmers who grow food for sale as well as for their own consumption and are exposed to volatile market prices and rising production costs.
"Half of the world's hungry people are themselves farmers... And then in the UK we throw away a third of our food - it's a shocking piece of evidence that in the 21st century we have such a broken food system," Gidney said.
Yet Fairtrade products are still a "drop in the ocean", he said. Ninety percent of cocoa globally is grown by smallholders, yet only 1 percent of it is sold under the Fairtrade label.
Meanwhile, prices on financial markets for coffee and sugar are hovering around 2-1/2 year lows on abundant supplies.
Gidney urged companies to source more products from smallholders and to help them capture more value further down the supply chain. He cited the example of Marks & Spencer, which recently launched a Fairtrade tea that is not only sourced, but also processed and packaged in Kenya.
Producers at the Iriaini Tea Factory now fetch an extra $2-3 per kg of tea sold - 60 percent more value than they would get from selling it in bulk - and can now sell their tea in the domestic and wider African market.
"The best way of ensuring that farmers are protected from the impact of price volatility is for them to be setting their own terms of trade more," Gidney said.
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