I’m pleased to see that Fair Trade South Africa, the South African division of Fair Trade, is getting more established. They began setting up locally last year, and this year aim to focus on implementation.
In particular, we should start to see greater marketing of the Fair Trade label in South Africa, as well as more Fair Trade-certified lines becoming available locally. Their first newsletter has just come out, giving a sneak preview of some of their plans.
I met with someone from Fair Trade yesterday, in particular about the Ethical Co-op’s possible interest in Fair-Trade certified lines. One question which came up was around the cost of certification. It’s possible that smaller organisations who are as fair in all senses, may choose not to, or be unable to afford, Fair Trade certification. This mirrors the certified organic versus organic in principle divide. Some of our most trusted suppliers, who farm according to higher organic standards than certain certified organic suppliers, choose not to be certified, and we’ve made a conscious decision to support this.
Labelling is great though, as it raises the general awareness, and does lead to a real shift in behaviour. Let’s hope Fair Trade can be as successful here as they have been elsewhere.