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Fairtrade: What does it mean?

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Fairtrade is a term you will no doubt be familiar with, as everything from coffee to bananas appears to bear the Fairtrade label in today’s supermarkets. Yet, what exactly does it mean and why should consumers be compelled to purchase products that bear the Fairtrade label rather than items that do not? Discover the origins of the life-changing scheme, devised and championed by those who believe in human-rights for all.

An Ethical Label

The initial Fairtrade label first appeared in the latter end of the 1980s in the Netherlands and to this day is a recognisable mark indicating that by purchasing the product you are helping farmers and producers who have not been exploited and will directly benefit from the Fairtrade system. The campaign assists to alleviate poverty in developing countries and ensures workers are treated fairly and humanely. These are factors that people in countries such as the UK often take for granted as afterall, here, there are laws to prevent discrimination, cruelty and exploitation in the workplace. Factors included in this, feature minimum pricing so that farmers are paid realistically and fairly; the option to receive partial payment as part of a contract. It is also necessary for buyers to enter into long-term contracts which ensure farmers have realistic forecasts of their future income.

The Symbol

Distinctive blue and green curves set against a black background actually depict a person with an arm raised in apparent victory and the interpretation of who this person actually represents is open to debate. The majority of people agree that it depicts anyone who benefits from the Fairtrade movement, from the hardworking farmer to the entrepreneurial trader. Some believe it to be a symbol of the system as a whole: victorious and hopeful. This positive image has adorned Fairtrade products since 2002, when it became the official emblem used by the FLO.

Who Can Use the Fairtrade Mark?

One cannot merely claim to be part of this human rights movement and there are stringent guidelines to be observed if a product is to bear the emblem. Certain criteria must be adhered to as dictated by the Fairtrade Labelling Organisations International (FLO). Traders, producers, academics and members of the Fairtrade movement have been consulted to form the standards and a company or person that misuses the label can be reported and accordingly investigated.

Fairtrade symbol

Why Buy Fairtrade?

The smallest of purchases can have the greatest of impacts when buying Fairtrade: far from being a mere marketing ploy to convince consumers to spend a little more, Fairtrade makes a palpable difference to generation after generation of families in developing countries. Without even being aware of the extent of the FLO’s work, the name “Fairtrade” is sometimes enough to encourage consumers to purchase goods adorned with the logo and in each year profits from the sale of products such as fruit, tea and coffee continue to increase. Members of the UK public can find details of volunteer positions on the Fairtrade website allowing UK residents to be part of this incredible mission to maintain quality of life and promote trading standards in developing countries around the world.

 

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About Denise Morgan

About Denise Morgan

Denise has five years' experience writing for various web-based companies. During this time she has also contributed to magazine articles and brochures. In addition to writing, Denise is a gigging singer/songwriter and is proud to have featured on the first series of BBC One's The Voice UK, having been selected by the great Sir Tom Jones. Denise is mother to the most talented and ridiculously intelligent two year old that has ever been and ever will be (until she creates another one that is). This kind of hyperbole is restricted only to her progeny and is not a reflection of her usual writing styles... Denise and her son live in Manchester along with their five cats - yes that's right, five.

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