In 2010, in the first recession, UK sales of Fairtrade goods climbed to £1.17bn; 9.3 million cups of Fairtrade tea were being consumed, along with 3.1 million Fairtrade bananas. We don’t have the latest figures but, if the trend continued in 2012, sales of Fairtrade goods may have topped £2bn.
Yet this is still a tiny fraction of the products consumed in Britain; there is room for huge improvement.
‘Fairtrade is about creating a global family,’ says Tadessa Maskela, director of a coffee cooperative in Ethiopia who was largely responsible for persuading Marks & Spencer to switch to Fairtrade coffee in all their high street shops.
This encapsulates how we need to think about our shopping – physically or online. Most of us in the Western world live with our multiple cars, warm homes, clean fresh water and education for all our children as standard. Behind the coffee, tea, sugar or juice you’ve selected is a farmer and his family struggling to exist: farmers who have to make choices about whether or not to send their children to school because they can’t afford the books and pencils; whose children have to walk sometimes two miles to the river and back to fetch water in containers; who want to live rather than exist; farmers who need justice, not aid.
Fairtrade is the only certification scheme that guarantees a minimum price for products, plus a community premium to purchase items of community benefit – for example a village water pump to ensure a clean water supply, school books or healthcare.
So, when you’re wondering which brand to pick – why not look for the one with the Fairtrade mark and make a real positive difference to somebody’s life? Somebody you will probably never meet, who will never be able to thank you but who is part of our global family.
Swindon Fairtrade is running the Trustea Campaign to persuade the National Trust, with its HQ in Swindon, to stock Fairtrade tea in its tearooms around Britain. Find out more and sign the petition at www.swindonfairtrade.org