The truth about Fair­trade

Element - - Contents - By Deirdre Robert

How your wal­let is chang­ing lives.

Chances are as you set­tle back to read this, you’re sip­ping on a pip­ing hot cup of cof­fee, savour­ing the aroma and en­joy­ing the sweet taste of a caf­feine-fu­elled kick-start to your day. But many of the in­gre­di­ents that go into our favourite daily in­dul­gences — the cof­fee in your cup, the co­coa beans and sugar in choco­late, the spices in our food and even the cot­ton in the clothes we wear — are sourced from farm­ers who are not paid enough to even cover the costs of pro­duc­tion, let alone feed their fam­i­lies and pro­vide ad­e­quate health­care and ed­u­ca­tion for their chil­dren.

This un­just sys­tem is driven by a hand­ful of multi­na­tional com­pa­nies which wield power over much of the in­ter­na­tional trade mar­ket. They push down the prices paid to pro­duc­ers and farm work­ers in the de­vel­op­ing world, re­in­forc­ing the cy­cle of poverty.

For decades the fair trade move­ment has been work­ing to es­tab­lish an al­ter­na­tive and much fairer ap­proach to the way ma­te­ri­als are traded. Lo­cally, Fair­trade Australia & New Zealand (FANZ) and the World Fair Trade Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WFTO) have been work­ing to em­power farm­ers and work­ers by pay­ing them a min­i­mum, sta­ble, fair price to cover pro­duc­tion costs. The ad­di­tional pay­ment of a com­mu­nity or so­cial pre­mium en­hances the so­cial, en­vi­ron­men­tal and eco­nomic stan­dards of the lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties of pro­ducer co­op­er­a­tives.

Else­where events such as Fair Trade Fort­night have had a part to play in bring­ing Fair­trade to the public and cor­po­rates. The an­nual event cel­e­brates all things Fair­trade with a se­ries of events, in­clud­ing Ox­fam’s Big­gest Cof­fee Break. Since it launched in 2007, Cof­fee Break has in­volved more than 85,000 par­tic­i­pants through­out New Zealand, with money raised ben­e­fit­ing farm­ers through­out the Pa­cific and Asia.

But Fair­trade is cer­tainly not with­out its con­tro­versy. Al­le­ga­tions of child labour in some Fair­trade sup­ply chains have kept the or­gan­i­sa­tion on its toes.

A 2011 sur­vey by Globes­can found that 57 per cent of Kiwi con­sumers are fa­mil­iar with the Fair­trade la­bel. But with Kiwi wal­lets feel­ing the eco­nomic pinch, are shop­pers pre­pared to put their money where their ethics are and buy Fair­trade goods, and how well is New Zealand poised to take ad­van­tage of gaps in the lo­cal mar­ket­place?

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.