Fair Trade

With this past week having been the first of Fair Trade Fortnight in several countries, I wondered if yours is involved and if you’ve picked up anything interesting about the movement to Make Trade Fair.

International trade laws are undeniably weighted against poor countries, keeping billions in the Third World trapped in poverty. The mission is to make trade work for the producer, by campaigning for changes that will empower farmers, rather than continually exploit them: in short, making sure that workers in developing countries get a better deal for their toil.

In the UK, the Fair Trade market is doubling in value every two years. Last year, its estimated retail value was up by approximately 43% – to £700 million – and around 20% of the coffee and bananas sold in the UK are now reportedly Fair Trade.

Is the price of Fair Trade products too high to compete further? Do you believe that the extra being paid for them is actually reaching the people it should?

Take coffee, for example; after oil, the world’s second most valuable commodity.

Some 70% of the world’s coffee producers are small-scale growers, most of whom struggle to eke out a living. Hardly surprising when you consider that the farmer will have earned about three cents for what you pay three dollars for at Starbucks.

Next, bananas, the world’s most popular fruit, with annual global sales of £10 billion. So, how come the majority of plantation workers earn less than £1 a day?

About 70% of all cocoa, to give another example, comes from West Africa. Although the major exporters aim to double the incomes of their suppliers there by 2013, many remain unimpressed. They could do much more.

Do you see the certified Fair Trade brands at the newsagents or in the canteen vending machine, or just endless rows of Cadbury’s, Hershey’s, Mars and Nestlé products? (See how the latter value the rights of their cocoa farmers here.)

Nestlé, which already controls a good portion of the world’s coffee industry, launched its own Fair Trade instant coffee in 2005. That’s the same Nestlé, of course, which has been subject to an international boycott for more than three decades because of its “aggressive” marketing of powdered baby milk.

How do you feel about such ‘green-washing’, as it’s been called: giving an often controversial multi-national corporation a more eco-friendly image, be it due to genuine concern for the cause or just another opportunity to increase sales?

Do you really care where your peppers or oranges come from? Is supporting local farmers, wherever possible, more important than supporting those in the developing world? Are you happy to pay a little more for some items to help alleviate someone else’s poverty? Do you already boycott anyone or anything?

Lots of questions for a Sunday night, but I’d love to hear your views.

If you feel that all this leaves the taste of a Nestlé Milkybar in your mouth, consider requesting that your local supermarket – unless you boycott it on ethical grounds, of course – starts stocking more Fair Trade products. Take a moment to tell the new EU Trade Commissioner that Europe’s unfair trade deals are a disgrace (you don’t have to be European). Or exercise your power as a consumer and refuse to buy anything unethical. A little snoop around cyberspace will show you who the villains are and what crimes they’re guilty of. You might be surprised at just how many there are and how much money you unwittingly hand them each week.

Author: FEd

Features Editor of David Gilmour's official blog, The Blog ('Features' previously being its rather naff title), affectionately - or lazily - shortened to 'FEd'.

56 thoughts on “Fair Trade”

  1. Whew, that’s a lot to take in on a Sunday night. I can’t possibly begin to comment on all of it. However, I love going to Farmer’s Markets and helping my local growers. You can taste the difference in freshness, for sure.

    I like to help out the growers in developing countries as well. This coffee not only helps the local farmer, but non-profit organizations and schools too.

    Link: itsmorethanfairtrade.com

    Can’t wait to read some of these comments.

    Have a great week, all!

    ~Erin

  2. I do care where products come from and I am sensitive to the fair trade policy.

    I noticed that fair trade products, normally quite good, are increasing in distribution, but still in selected shops, not enough to compete with the mass distribution products, which are generally of average quality.

    Talking about fair initiatives, I just bought myself one of the 5 Fender Telecaster donated to the Syd Barrett Trust, aimed to collect funds for mental health aid in collaboration with Escape Artists.

    I’m really happy to have found this through the EMI dedicated Syd Barrett page, and I feel to invite all Tele lovers to pay a visit, they also have an eBay store where they might accept lower offers.

    What you get is a fine instrument from Fender Mexico, not expensive at all, and for a good cause!

    1. Very cool, the money is going to establish a Syd Barrett Centre for the Arts in Cambridge.

      I hope the Fender serves you well and you visit Cambridge when it’s established.

      I also love the ultimate fan pages, very cool EMI.

  3. I think some Fair Trade goods are too expensive and will never be top sellers because there is too much cheap competition. People care about their money worries first off.

    It is also more convenient to buy big brand names because you do not have to go hunting for them at the supermarket. I hardly see any Fair Trade goods.

    I buy Fair Trade sugar, cocoa, tea, chocolate and bananas, but I could never afford to buy only Fair Trade.

  4. Fed, this is a great topic. Thanks for doing this!

    The supermarkets are the first place anyone ought to check then vote with their purse (wallet). A quick look at Greenpeace article told me that in 2006 the three largest supermarkets in UK were all competing to be the “greenest”, “fairest trading” , “ethical” etc. At that time Marks & Spencer’s was actually out performing all of them. No doubt they have sought to catch up and they do all want to get us through their doors. So, all supermarket shoppers have power to affect change. I buy as much fair trade as a I can.

    Do I boycott anything? I used to boycott anything from apartheid South Africa, when the regime changed I had to really force myself to remember that it would now be of benefit to the people to buy their goods/produce. I boycott any eggs which are not free range. Not least because battery hens are not healthy. I only buy British milk to support British farmers and because our cows ARE tested for BSE.

    Do I boycott anything based on it’s fair trade/ethical pedigree? I don’t know if I do enough. As I discover more I make a decision.

    Green washing. Remember at Xmas Fed, you mentioned a novelty gift, coasters made out of vinyl records? I saw a blank page notebook, the covers of which were vinyl records. £35!!!! Labelled up as “re-cycled”. The shop, NOT a charity, was one frequented by students/young people. Catch ’em while they’re young, put a “green” phrase on it, make loads of money!

    ash X

    1. It’s certainly fashionable to be ‘green’ right now, and there will always be someone looking to cash in…

      I’m glad that it’s fashionable, though. The ones who follow fashion most closely are often the ones with the money to spend on such goods, so let them spend it, I say.

  5. I’m not sure if statistics are always a reliable/valid source of information, but I’ve read that the European countries which are most involved in developing fair trade are – in that order – Switzerland (due to public founds), The Netherlands, Denmark, Germany and Sweden.

    I think that fair trade refers to an article in the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights:

    “Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity.”

    Good.

    This partnership is (should be) based on equality and respect.

    So, I think that supporting fair trade is also a way for developed countries to help/force developing countries to respect fundamental human rights like child labour ban, slavery abolition, non discrimination between men and women, non discrimination of all sorts (due to races, religions…).

    Also good, so everyone is a winner.

    Another topic, seeing that the world is reflecting in Charm el-Cheikh on how to re-build Gaza, I was wondering how they were feeling there about fair trade. I find this site very interesting to surf on.

    Go, Arab women!!!

    Michèle

    1. That’s a very interesting site, thank you for the link.

      Olive oil from the West Bank and Gaza. Definitely.

      Did you know that nearly 75% of Palestinians live below the United Nations poverty line?

  6. Very interesting.

    I didn’t hear about Fair Trade Forthnight, maybe Italy is not involved in it and it’s very sad.

    CTM Altromercato has recently opened a shop in my city, where I use to buy products such as soaps, coffee, chocolate or little gifts. It’s true that their prices are a bit higher, but I’m happy to know that I’m giving my (very little) help in fighting exploitation and poverty. The quality of their products is usually high, too.

    I searched the web to know something more about Fair Trade and Italian laws and I discovered that a Parliamentary Committee started discussing about it in 2006, but that’s all they did, because a law has never been developed.

    Obviously there wasn’t actually the will to do it, as it often happens when policy has to pronounce about poverty, environment and things like that.

    1. All talk, no action. Isn’t that always the way?

      It’s great that the likes of the stinking-rich Hershey, Kraft, Mars and Starbucks empires are promising to double the incomes of cocoa farmers in West Africa by 2013, but how many will have lost their businesses by 2013? How many will lose their lives along with their livelihoods over the next four years?

    2. Yes, that’s the way, along with keeping some information unknown to the people.

      I use to boycott Dole bananas, Nestlè products and everything tested on animals (especially Unilever, Procter & Gamble and Philip Morris) but I know it’s not enough.

      Most consumers are completely unaware of what they’re buying when they go to do their shopping and I think that’s not always their fault. No one, apart from some associations, seems to be actually interested in making them aware.

      Considering how it’s hard to know who actually produces the things we buy, it’s very unfair that the people had to do all this work by themselves.

    3. They say that ignorance is bliss. That must come as a huge relief to many a multi-national corporation, because consumers keep funding their atrocities although they claim to care so much for specific causes.

      A quick look at the packaging will show where it came from, and although it is difficult to find alternatives when just about every brand of toothpaste or washing powder on sale at every supermarket worldwide was made by two of the companies you mention, if you feel strongly enough about an issue such as animal testing, you can find them.

      Don’t give up. Encourage others to join the boycott and you’re doing something positive instead of just being part of the problem.

    4. Yes, I do hope that some of those businesses go down, or at least are boycotted by some of the general public. Especially Starbucks and Hershey. You know Starbucks is doing bad when coffee there is reduced to $4.99. Also, Hershey isn’t using cocoa, or at least not nearly as much, in their products anymore, or so I’ve been told.

      I also tried to boycott Dole, but not Nestlè. 🙁

      I might be flexing my conservative muscle now, but I don’t have much of a problem with animal testing for products, especially pharmaceutical. I mean, if it will save human lives, isn’t a couple dozen rats, or even dogs good enough? Considering how many dogs are abused and abandoned, wouldn’t you rather them be tested and fed than starving and dying?

      Thanks for bringing up this topic FEd, some interesting food for thought (pardon the awful pun).

      Anthony

    5. Some years ago I discovered a book named “Guida al consumo critico” (A guide to the critical consumer). That’s an Italian edition, but I’m sure something like that has been published in many countries.

      It contains lots of information about the behaviour of a great number of multi-national companies with regard to specific issues such as workers’ treatment, environment, animal testing and so on. It was really helpful.

      I agree with you, FEd. We still can find the way to change our world, if we want and if someone or something helps us.

      People need to be encouraged to believe they still have this right. It’s not true that nothing can be done.

      That’s what happens with animal testing: it’s not true that we can only test our medicines and cosmetics on animals. There are lots of alternatives which have the only problem to be a little more expensive. As always, their money before the respect for life.

  7. Hi Fed,

    I live in the world’s first world fair trade market town of Garstang.

    I have to say I think more and more places are using this logo as an excuse to publicize themselves, rather than the products of poor/third world farmers. Garstang has one fair trade shop, also the Co-op, which does more than most which is where we buy our coffee, tea and chocolate, bananas I never realised. Booths is just building a massive supermarket in the town, and well Somerfield, which has just been bought by the Co-op, does zilch.

    Preston and Blackpool are trying jump on the bandwagon now, as you say I think people are using the term ‘fair trade’ as a means to their own ends.

    Nice to chat again,
    Damian.

  8. Great post FEd! Big chocoholic here!

    I’m happy that Divine chocolate came out best on the scorecard. It’s also delicious!

    Whatever happened to the Divine/Comic Relief Dubble bar that was aimed at kids? You never see products like that where kids can notice them and buy them. With the price of a Mars bar or a Dairy Milk now over 50p, a smaller-sized Fair Trade bar of chocolate probably could compete if it was placed alongside the usual ones.

    I only see large bars of Fair Trade chocolate in supermarkets. That’s too much for a lunch box or a snack when you’re on the move.

    I know Divine do regular sized bars as well, but you can only buy them in select shops like Oxfam or in bulk. You’re right to say that they should be in vending machines where people can see them.

    Also, does anyone know what happened to Fair Break chocolate wafers? I don’t see them at Morrisons or Tesco anymore. They were perfect for the kids’ lunch boxes. I will be asking the store manager the next time I’m there.

    I think lots of kids care about these issues and they should be given the choice between Fair Trade and the big chocolate makers. Not everyone has the time to visit specialist stores. The Fair Trade items at my local Tesco are all in one aisle, so that’s not exactly helpful if you want to compare prices. If they were better placed, people would see that they’re not always more expensive.

    Thanks FEd!

    1. Thank you, Fran.

      The Dubble bar is still around. The Dubble website is a very good one and should appeal to youngsters, but you’re right about the placement of Fair Trade products. You’d almost think that The Big Three don’t want any healthy competition…

      Funnily enough, I’ve also noticed that the Fair Break wafers have vanished from the supermarkets. I’ll do as you plan to do the next time I visit one. In the meantime, you can buy them online here, likewise Dubble bars.

  9. Great topic Fed.

    I work in the Grocery Retailing business for a major retailer in the Mid West. We used to carry a lot of the Fair Trade coffees in the store where I work and some other products. They were priced between the Store brands and the National brands. The problem was they did not sell very well. I think that was due to poor communication about the products. (You know how everyone has to have Starbuck’s.)

    Also every major retailer charges what is called a slotting Fee. This is a Fee for the shelf space and the warehouse space. I doubt very much if any retailer would forego the fees for Fair Trade.

    There needs to be more awareness about the Fair Trade products. People might be more receptive to these products if they knew more about them and where they can purchase them.

    Hoss

    1. I’ve been selling coffee to large grocery chains for years in the US. Slotting fees for a major grocery chain for one single coffee variety is around $25,000 per slot per year. If consumers demand your product motivated from marketing campaigns then you can avoid those costs.

      Not all grocery chains require these fees, only the major ones.

  10. Green washing is running rampant in America these days. I particularly loathe the makers of cleaning products which go on and on about how they’re made with ‘all natural’ components. Arsenic is natural too, you know. But seeming to be green is like seeming to be inexpensive here; entirely ‘in’ and the makers just hope no one digs too deeply.

    Fair trade goods aren’t all that common here. I can name three shops where I can get fair trade items which are actually fair trade, including one which is all fair trade all the time.

    Keep in mind I live in a country where makers of hyperthyroidal, massive vehicles try to convince consumers they’re eco-friendly. Some days I just want to bang my head against a wall.

    1. Let’s not forget about the talk of wonderful “clean coal”. Obama made a horrible mistake of mentioning it in his address… I was shocked his advisers didn’t catch that one.

  11. I use the local butcher and farm shop mainly because the stuff from there is better quality and you get a more personal service.

    I don’t really like supermarkets but I suppose they are a necessary evil in this day and age. Having said that I refuse to shop at Tesco, I would rather drive miles out of my way than go there. Spreading like a rash and always trying to shove out the little guy, disgusting shop.

    Fair trade stuff is great, our Co-op in the village sells all kinds of fair trade things, we like the tea and some of the red wine is nice.

  12. The stats above make me feel sick. I do my bit, but it’s not enough. The money men and politicians need to act.

    I would not be surprised if some of these big multinationals are richer than many countries in West Africa.

  13. Hi Fed

    I worked for Nestle for over 18 years (through the so called Baby Milk years, but that’s another story!). At that time coffee sales accounted for about 25% of our business but contributed 80% of our profit. Coffee has always been a rip off business that exploited it’s farmers. I left them over 12 years ago but I suspect little has changed.

    Whilst I agree with all that’s been said so far, I also feel we should consider a company’s green credentials before we work for them and boost their profits further. Deprive them of the cream of the labour market.

    I encourage graduates to consider this before embarking upon a meaningful and prosperous career.

    Paul

  14. A massive issue that would take a better informed man than me to unravel.

    The problem for example of balancing fair trade for farmers in developing countries with a desire for low carbon, local solutions is a real one.

    It’s a bit like organic and welfare standard food… the reality is that until it becomes the “norm”, fair trade will be expensive compared to standard. If you care enough, pay the difference, but be careful not to ride too high a horse because you will struggle to hold that standard across the board unless you are either very rich or incredibly self-sufficient.

    What a depressing situation that is. “Normal” = “unfair”. Cheap for us = exploitative of others. As the Global recession has surely taught us, we are not nearly as “rich” as we thought we were and what we have has been paid for dearly by assets and labour we have declared our own.

    The situation is deeply embedded in our trading history, our colonialism and imperialism, our drive for ever increasing consumption. It won’t be easily fixed.

    Of course it’s not all bleak. We have to be careful not to impose our own view of “fair” – after all, that famous deal to buy Manhattan from the local tribe for a few trinkets looks like a classic “unfair” trade – but of course the tribes were more than happy – they never “owned” the place anyway so it was all profit to them.

    The real problem was sharing it with the incredibly avaricious white settlers. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.

  15. While grocery shopping on Saturday my 26 year old daughter made me buy fair trade bananas. She’s a huge Coldplay fan (loves PF also) and they are big supporters of this very important movement.

    Damn good bananas too. Later.

    George

  16. I have to tell you, I have not been aware of the “free trade” thing. However, I am glad you brought it to my attention, and I will try to look into it.

    I boycott Walmart because of the way they treat the employees. I buy organic even though it costs more, I pay more for local products, and I pay more for green cleaning products. I have even paid a lot more for paint with no VOCs (volatile organic compounds). I also refuse to even watch TV channels that support terrible political parties (FOX)… so… I would be delighted to boycott a few more rotten bastards!

  17. Getting the best, fastest and cheapest, in most consumers’ eyes, is the fairest trade of them all. This is a paradigm that must shift. I see so many businesses and people selling themselves short, desperate to make that sale. It’s up to the consumer to consider “at what costs are they receiving the bargain”.

    It’s true that fair trade is more important than aid. With the free communication of the Internet, we can all investigate the living and working conditions of farms and make fair trades with the coffee growers of today directly.

    Coffee is the highest traded commodity next to oil and is one of the only commodities that many third world countries have to offer the world markets. Being in the coffee business for over 10 years, the best way I’ve found to insure fair trade with impoverish coffee growing regions is to literally visit and purchase from the farms directly and avoid major coffee brokers, passing the brokers percentage on to the farmer.

    My solution to the problem of this greed driven marketplace is to develop a chain of non-profit coffee houses dedicated to charitable fair trade commerce. Communities can use these coffee houses to support charitable causes while ensuring coffee growers receive fair prices to provide for healthy livings for their laborers.

    Link: BlackGoldMovie.com/CoffeeCalculator/

  18. All talk, no action. Isn’t that always the way?

    But it’s the same for us, consumers, no?

    Isn’t there a difference between what we think/know/claim we should do and what we do (or are forced to do)?

    I mean, we can’t ‘boycott’ the crisis, the recession, it’s reality. Can people still afford to pay x% more when they just have lost their job or could lose it at anytime, and have simply difficulties to feed their family?

    And do you think they have time to spend when shopping searching if toothpaste or washing powder are made by Unilever or not?

    Yes, I know what I say is a bit caricatural, but…

    Michèle

    1. And do you think they have time to spend when shopping searching if toothpaste or washing powder are made by Unilever or not?

      That’s what I meant saying that it’s unfair that the people/consumers have to do all this work to discover something which they should have the right to know.

    2. Yes, I think I had understood you, Alessandra.

      I was in fact replying to FEd’s “…although it is difficult to find alternatives when just about every brand of toothpaste or washing powder on sale at every supermarket worldwide was made by two of the companies you mention, if you feel strongly enough about an issue such as animal testing, you can find them.”

    3. I’m sorry Michèle, I didn’t express clearly what I wanted to say.

      I replied to your message just because I think we were saying the same things with different words. That was a way to say that I agree with you. 🙂

    4. It’s all OK, Alessandra, thank you. 🙂

      Who says there’s no language barrier (speaking for me)?

    5. Something I read a few years ago about testing cosmetics and cleaning products on animals. Apparently it was only new products that had to be tested. Same ingredients put together in a different formulation constituted a new product so had to be tested.

      I tend to buy the same basic products because of this and also because usually the additives won’t make the product more efficient anyway. An example, “Thick Bleach” has stuff added to it to make it thick and costs four times as much as (“thin”) pure bleach. It’s the bleach that is doing the job you buy it for. The thick bleach will have been tested on animals. New washing-up liquid with a better smell, guilty. Air fresheners, what’s wrong with opening the windows ? It goes on and on. If it’s new, it’s likely to have been tested.

      Advertisers and money grabbing manufacturers have a lot to answer for. Most people respond to the advertising. We (and I include myself) don’t even realise we are being sucked in.

      ash 😡

  19. Hi,

    An interesting topic, that made me think of what we buy, how we act and why.

    There are many things to consider, when you shop. Sustainability, ecology, fair trade, child-labour, supporting local producers, fair trade – and taste. In my household, it’s all important, and we mainly live ecological, but not 100%. If I should point one thing out, I’ll say avoiding pesticides (mainly in food, but also in clothes, cosmetics, etc.) is one of the main issues for me, when I choose what to get.

    As for Fair Trade, even if it’s growing, it’s still a drop in the ocean. What I think would make a huge difference, is if the EU would remove the toll-barriers, and allow African nations and others to enter our markets on equal terms. That would give those nations a chance to develop their industries, get the market price for their products, reduce poverty, and at the same time ensure better products to the consumers.

    Have a nice day, all
    Lene

  20. So playing devil’s advocate here I pose this question.

    What value do you then put on distribution and processing of goods that come from regions that grow these goods??

    It is not like there are local banana farms in Maine or in Scotland? Therefore there is a cost associated with getting the bananas to market. Here in New York you can purchase bananas at the corner fruit stand at an average of 40 cents per banana. Seems to me that at that cost each person involved in the process is only making a few cents from the grower to the street vendor. And certainly the further away you are from the source typically the more you are going to pay.

    Everyone is so quick to bash large corporations where there are quite a few that do quite a bit of good as well. But don’t worry, in this economy there will be more than one that will feel the pinch and shutter locations. Then there will be plenty more people out of work, that will equalize the world. Right??

    And by the way, I do my part by not drinking coffee. Ever!!

    Thanks.

    Andrew

  21. I might be flexing my conservative muscle now, but I don’t have much of a problem with animal testing for products, especially pharmaceutical. I mean, if it will save human lives, isn’t a couple dozen rats, or even dogs good enough? Considering how many dogs are abused and abandoned, wouldn’t you rather them be tested and fed than starving and dying?

    Anthony:

    I am certain that you just have not done enough reading up on this subject or you might see this differently.

    You are probably too young to recall the disaster of Thalidomide. (Tested on animals as well as many other ‘medical improvements’.)

    Daily household products and cosmetics have long been tested under horrific conditions for the animals and have not been improved for humans. For many years I have used products from the old Body Shop from the UK, Revlon and others because they don’t test on animals. I am sure the internet has a good list of products to avoid.

    Many colleges/ universities are using alternative methods to teach instead of animals. Mostly this has come about by organizations who have done their best to try to educate the public and by students who have done some research to become enlightened on the subject. There are many many books available on these subjects which at sometimes may be difficult to read but one should try.

    Jan

    1. I mustn’t have enough information, then. I knew of the Thalidomide incident, and of others, but I assume it isn’t as bad now.

      I do have some experience with animal testing, and they were treated relatively well. That is shelter, food and water. I didn’t have too much contact, and it was for somewhat tamer testing, and with rats, which I’m not too fond of anyway.

      I apologize, I assumed it was all that way. You know what they say about assuming.

      Anthony

    2. A few years ago my university finally allowed the students of scientific area to choose the conscientious objection, refusing to test on animals during the lessons.

      It was not easy to obtain it, because some teachers used to be very conservative on that subject.

      It was really a great victory.

    3. Please see my comment above which might be appropriate here also. 🙂

      A tutor I knew used to pick up and bring to university any animals that had been killed on the road, he commuted from the country, and put them in the freezer until he needed a specimen for dissection or demonstration. I thought that was a much more ethical practice.

      ash 🙂

    4. I read all your comments and you are right to buy only basic products. It’s terrible that lots of animals have to be killed only to satisfy our desire to buy “new” products. We should open our eyes and understand that most of times there is nothing really new in what the advertisers try to sell us. It’s only a new way to steal our money.

      Your tutor had a great idea.

  22. FE’d and all:

    Thank for the additional sites about fair trade. I need to do more research on this.

    We have numerous shops that have items from all over the world where the proceeds mainly go to the people who have produce the crafts. The Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts, and Minneapolis Textiles support this effort and have lovely products for sale. Macy’s has a show to promote the crafts usually in the spring.

    I enjoy the diversity of the items which make great gifts for Christmas and birthdays, etc. However, I do not know the percentage that makes it back to the actual artist and that concerns me as that is one of the main reasons for my purchase. Need to do some research on this.

    We have some co-ops and other chains that sell good fresh local products. I try to shop wisely, but one always needs to update information since things change constantly.

    In the past when on vacation, we have purchased beautiful items directly on the mesas where the pueblo artists live.

    I am so naive about much of this. Thank you again for bringing this subject up.

    Jan

  23. I have to say some things about this issue.

    Do I buy Fairtrade products? Yes. Do I always buy Fairtrade products? No. Why? Because I can´t afford it. Must I feel bad because of that? Tell you me that, Fed.

    What I want to say with this is I do some things to support Fair Trade and to support ecological products. (And I have no car!) But there is a level where I can´t go further and just have to buy products from the big companies. No matter if I like it or not. And I think I´m not the only one who is in this situation.

    I respect that you are trying to make people aware about such things but sometimes I wonder if you understand that not all of us have the same income.

    “Exercise your power as a consumer and refuse to buy anything unethical” – it´s easily said but not always so easily done.

    Irene

    1. It’s not easily done, which is one reason why my first question was ‘Is the price of Fair Trade products too high?’ I understand the issue of cost perfectly well.

      Thank you for speaking up; it’s a fair point, I always ask for views and hope that someone will contest something. That’s what makes a topic interesting, I think.

    2. I’d find it hard to believe Irene that any of us buy everything fairtrade, all of the time. We can only do as much as our own resources allow but every single purchase we make WILL make a difference.

      It’s the old story of the millions of starfish washing up ashore. Someone was throwing them back, one at a time and was criticised for wasting time as one person couldn’t make a difference. Well, they said, I made a difference to that one, and that one and that one…

      Regards
      Paul

    3. Thanks for your answer Fed. The problem is, I think that under the given circumstances the prices for Fair Trade products are as cheap as it´s possible. To make them more affordable would mean that for example the taxes or duties for such products must being lowered. But I fear that the big companies have too much influence on the politics to allow this happen. I have signed the campaign which you have linked to. Let´s hope it will help.

      And I want to say sorry, after reading my post again I saw that it comes over more harsh than it was intended to be.

      @ Paul C: You are right. Doing a bit is always better than doing nothing at all. It´s only sometimes disheartening to see how big the problems are.

    4. Bless you, Irene. There’s no need for an apology. It is disheartening and more should be done.

      Personally, I think the likes of Mars and Nestlé should do much, much more. When they’re making huge profits from the known exploitation of others and expecting the consumer to pay more for Fair Trade items to satisfy the conscience (which suits them very well because it means more sales and more money), it does leave a bad taste in the mouth.

      But then the richest few at the very top have always had a knack of coming through any bleak situation as winners… as this absurd situation with the banks shows.

      Boycott the big chocolate makers and the cocoa farmers ultimately lose out. So we buy, buy, buy at any price and feel that we’re making a difference, but we’ve every right to feel slightly resentful knowing that a much greater difference could – and should – be made if only the greedy could pull their dirty snouts out of the trough and do what’s right, instead of what’s profitable.

      Which the cynic in me feels will never happen.

  24. Fair trade??? No such thing… It’s just a sad, sad delusion…

    The “feeling” for today is “Obscured By Clouds”. Enjoy!!!

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