Fairtrade Foundation celebrates 20 years
Event in London celebrated Fairtrade
Yesterday the Fairtrade Foundation celebrated 20 years of the Fairtrade Mark. Launched in 1994, the Fairtrade Mark began with just three accredited products: Green & Black's Maya Gold chocolate, Cafédirect coffee and Clipper tea. Since then it has grown to over 4,500 certified products and benefits more than 1.3 million people – farmers and workers – in over 70 developing countries.
The anniversary was marked with a conference which brought together producers, suppliers, campaigners, licensees and Fairtrade members from around the world, to celebrate and reflect on the past 20 years. Opportunities for the further development and expansion of the Fairtrade Mark also were also explored.
The event included an opening address from the RT Hon Minister for International Development Justine Greening, and a speech by Fatima Ismael from the SOPPEXCCA co-operative who highlighted the benefits that Fairtrade has brought to families in Nicaragua.
This was followed by a lively debate chaired by Fairtrade's Harriet Lamb, who was joined by Dr Nyagoy Nyong'o of Fairtrade Africa, John Steel from Cafédirect, Rob Mihalak from Ben & Jerry's, and Alison McGovern MP, Shadow Minister for International Development.
After lunch, a video message from the Prince of Wales was played to the audience. This was warmly welcomed by Chair for the day Lucy Siegle as she remarked “he doesn't just do that for anyone!”.
The second debate of the day was chaired by Ed Mayo and celebrated “Generation Fairtrade” - the children who had grown up with Fairtrade. The panel included 20 year old Gabrial Marques-Worssam, a youth activist who volunteers with Fairtrade Wales, and Ian Cranna from Starbucks. Ian stated that now “companies were employing people who had grown up with Fairtrade and were now becoming business leaders and owners.”
TV presenter and businessman Nick Hewer then presented a short video of his recent trip to St Lucia, where he meet Fairtrade banana growers.
The final debate of the afternoon saw Mark Price, Managing Director of Waitrose, open the session with a short speech before joining a panel chaired by Baroness Lola Young and including Abhishek Jani of Fairtrade India, and Andrew Horton from Oxfam. During this debate Mark Price faced difficult questions from the audience regarding his supermarket's policy on the pricing of bananas and milk, and why John Lewis had not stocked Fairtrade gold products. Mark responded by stating that when Waitrose had increased the price of milk it had seen a fall in sales; therefore as a company it had decided to reduce its profits margins on the products so that suppliers did not suffer. He hoped in the future that the “price madness” would subside.
Andrew Horton also criticised Fairtrade for devaluing long-time Fairtrade brands such as Divine by allowing larger brands such as Mars and Nestlé to become certified on certain products. Abhishek argued that this decision had allowed more consumers to access Fairtrade, and ultimately the aim of Fairtrade Mark was to provide better trade conditions for the producers.
Michael Gidney, Chief Executive, closed the day's events highlighting three elements of a fair vision for 2020. He stated that we need to put producers first, assist companies in becoming accountable, and tackle the indifference of policy-makers to the scale and urgency of trade injustice and its effects.
Read our work on Fairtrade bananas >
Ethical Consumer on Google+