trade and ethical business have never been far from the headlines
in recent months. Consumers of everything from pension funds to
chocolate are being enlisted in campaigns to put pressure on some
of the biggest names in the High Street to adopt more ethical
That pressure is fuelled by growing public awareness of the impact
individual spending decisions have on the 'third world' communities
who are often the primary producers of the merchandise we buy
or the raw materials from which it's fashioned.
At the same time, demand is growing for more transparent and accountable
government and corporate structures here in the UK and internationally,
while Agenda 21 is putting pressure on local authorities to implement
overtly ethical policies in support of sustainable development.
"The pressure for change and reform is coming from society itself,
from the man and woman in the street," says Philip Angier, chief
executive of fair trade organisation, Traidcraft. "There is a
growing expectation that the way business and government conduct
themselves should reflect the concerns of the average citizen".
for Fair Trade
"People are increasingly global in outlook and aspiration. They
bring till receipts back to the supermarket because they worry
about the impact of buying policies in the 'third world'; they
write to big companies like BP and Shell because they worry about
the environment. And the companies are beginning to respond."
And nowhere is that response to public demand more evident than
on the shelves of your local supermarket. With 45 fairly-traded
products now in British supermarkets - and more on the way - growing
numbers of UK consumers are clearly prepared to use the power
in their purse to help Traidcraft change the world for the better.
That steady growth in support has changed Traidcraft -a fair trade
pioneer back in 1979 - into the UK's largest independent fair
trade organisation with an annual turnover of more than £7.5 million
- and the ear of key figures in business and government.
It's a transformation that can surprise those for whom "fair trade"
means memories of hand-drawn catalogues, jute sandals and clay
jewellery. Today's reality is a lot different - and much more
dynamic. High-quality, fairly-traded teas, coffees and foods now
account for more than 50 per cent of sales for the Traidcraft
trading company and have become the powerhouse in a success story
which is delivering tangible benefits to small independent farmers
and artisans across the developing world.
Now, Traidcraft is eager to spread the fair trade message to local
authorities keen to reflect the ethical concerns of their citizens
and satisfy the demands of Agenda 21.
Councils have already taken up the challenge
City councils in Bristol, Nottingham, Norwich and Gloucester have
responded to a Fairtrade Foundation campaign by converting to
fairly-traded tea and coffee. A handful more are actively exploring
the possibility. Some, like Newcastle, have put a "fair trade
preferred" option in their beverage contracts. But for the majority,
the fair trade approach appears either irrelevant or too difficult
to implement. Nothing could be further from the truth, says Traidcraft.
Fair Trade and Agenda 21
"Fair trade is about justice, not charity, and that gives it a
very powerful resonance for many people," adds Angier.
"It also provides a strong link to Agenda 21 which recognises
that environmental problems and solutions are linked to social
and economic problems. "Fair trade is a way of addressing some
of the inequities in global systems which limit access and opportunity
to a privileged few and which, ultimately, drive the environmental
depredation which affects so much of the third world and which
imperils us all.
increasing success of fairly traded products in supermarkets and
elsewhere is the clearest demonstration that a fairer, more just
society is an issue of growing importance for the average citizen.
"Supermarkets are stocking fairly traded goods because customers
are demanding them; people are buying them because they recognise
that simple actions have huge consequences for people on the other
side of the planet. "It is an almost perfect working out of the
Agenda 21 slogan: Think globally; act locally."
A wide range of drinks at competitive prices
In the past, one of the principal objections to switching to fair
trade beverages for many councils was the lack of a complete fairly-traded
range and high prices.
However, competition among fair trade suppliers in recent years
has increased availability, improved quality and driven down prices.
"The public sector is ideally positioned to act as an agent of
change because of its high profile and centralised purchasing
policies," says Traidcraft foods marketing manager Stuart Palmer.
"A small change to tender documentation indicating a preference
for fair trade can ensure easy access to fair trade drinks vending,
for instance, in the workplace. "The cumulative affect of councils
making this sort of switch would have enormous consequences for
communities all around the 'third world.' It is a simple opportunity,
ideally suited to the Agenda 21 priorities."
For further information and quotations on fair trade beverage
vending please call fresh-CAFÉ on 01923 291 555
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