‘Landmark’ year for Fairtrade Foundation, annual report shows

The Fairtrade movement experienced a “milestone” year in 2019, with more support than ever from buyers and increased sales of products from flowers to gold, as new numbers show.

The Fairtrade Foundation said strong sales in the UK resulted in more than £ 33m going to farmers and workers to invest in projects designed to boost the local economy and improve community service.

The Foundation's 2019 annual report states that British buyers are more interested in Fairtrade than ever. Flower sales rose 12%, cocoa 23%, coffee 3%, wine 10% and gold 30%.

CEO Mike Gidney said 2020 would be a challenging year due to the coronavirus crisis, but added that supermarket sales had held up and many companies were giving the movement extra money.

"In recent years, from Brexit to falling prices, we've worked hard to promote fair trade and challenge companies to do more for farmers and workers in their supply chains," he said.

"But these numbers show that it's not just us – the UK public wants fairness in their supply chains, as do many companies that are doing the right thing." The message is clear: make fairness part of the products we know and love. "

He added: “However, as the current Covid 19 crisis has shown, much more needs to be done to tackle poverty and combat trade exploitation, and fair trade is needed more than ever.

"During this pandemic, helping businesses and buyers was critical as Fairtrade sales and investments were a lifeline to communities."

According to the annual report, Fairtrade support goes beyond product certification.

A new initiative called "Women's School of Leadership" on the Ivory Coast creates role models that encourage other women in their communities to participate more actively in the cocoa business.

The first cohort of graduates is now being helped to diversify their harvests and become mentors and trainers for their environment.

A coffee farmer (Fairtrade Foundation / PA)

One of the graduates, mother of five Raisin Bekoin, increased yields on her farm by 50% in her first year in Fairtrade.

In previous harvests, she sold her cocoa to local middlemen, who visited farms at harvest time and bought cocoa from individual farmers, did a tough job, and farmers often struggled to make a living.

Ms. Bekoin has also risen to lead the women's society of her cooperative, a group that wants to increase her family's income.

Her projects include growing additional vegetables for sale and setting up a fishery funded by Fairtrade Premium.

The foundation celebrated its 25th birthday in 2019 and has now generated nearly £ 1billion for farmers and workers around the world.

Mr. Gidney told PA news agency that the UK's awareness of the movement had reached 90%. Four out of five buyers said they trusted their products, which shows that 2019 was a milestone for the foundation.

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