Are our Products Fairtrade?
We completely support the ideas behind Fairtrade and want all the farmers we source our products from to get the best prices. We are fully behind good working conditions, local sustainability and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world.
Many of our products are indeed Fairtrade products but we don’t show the Fairtrade logo on our product labels or market them as Fairtrade. This is because we haven’t paid the fee and signed up to the Fairtrade Foundation which all sellers have to do to use the logo on their packaging, even if purchasing from fair trade producers.
We don’t agree with doing this for five main reasons:
- Although the movement is very good in terms of what it is trying to do, the Fairtrade price is not always the best deal for producers. You can read more about this in the excellent book: Chocolate Nation – Living and Dying for Cocoa in West Africa. While it is good for some commodities sold, for many of the types of products we sell, unfortunately Fairtrade can sometimes stop a farmer getting the best price available which is counter intuitive to what the it is trying to do.
- Quite often big companies pay large amounts of money but don’t have to follow the same rules to add these types of logos. For example, Cadbury no longer advertise their chocolate as Fairtrade but when Cadbury joined Fairtrade and started adding the logo to their chocolate bars some years ago we were disheartened to learn that this could mean the logo could be used on bars where no fairly traded cocoa was in the bar. More details can be found here: http://www.chocablog.com/features/how-fair-is-fairtrade-chocolate/ Unfortunately this is the case for many large organisation
- We do not believe the fee we would pay to any UK or EU based Fairtrade certifier would go back to the specific third world producer of the fair trade product we may be purchasing. It would likely not even go back to the country the product came from. However, if we deal directly with the supplier and agree on a fair price, we can be more certain the money is going back to the people who have worked hard to produce the product.
- Just like us, the producer is required to pay a Fairtrade membership fee, which is often too high for them. This fact alone can exclude them from selling to fair trade buyers. Even if they were to pay for it, yet again the full amount of money is not going back into the farm or to its people, but rather ending up in administering an organisation.
- Ultimately you would pay more for our products. As we would need to pay a fee and have the administrative expense of being part of the scheme we need to add this to this price of our products. Our number one aim is to make healthy eating affordable for everyone so we try to keep our prices as low as possible. While we pay for things like our Organic certification we tend not to sign up for the others. We are finding the marketplace is becoming swamped with logos that we can pay for to add to our packaging (there are now quite a few others in addition to Fairtrade that do similar things) and this beginning to make the market confusing for customers.
So What do We Do?
We only buy from trusted suppliers, many of which we have worked with for many years. We believe strongly in paying a fair price for all the goods we stock and we will continue to buy as many products directly from source as we can, paying the best price. We don’t believe in credit and never ask our suppliers for credit terms and we always pay our suppliers before or on delivery. This greatly assists the supplier’s cash flow and is one of the reasons our suppliers like working with us. However, ultimately it comes down to the choices we make as a business as a whole. We try to make the choices as a business that are good for people and the planet, be it switching to biodegradable bags for many of our products or paying the Real Living Wage to our staff to paying a fair price for the goods we source. It is simply, the right thing to do.