30 years of Fairtrade making its mark: Together we can build a better future

2024 is the 30th anniversary of the FAIRTRADE Mark in the UK, and the Fairtrade Foundation will be celebrating the achievements of the movement with innovative events and campaigns throughout the year, it has announced. 

It is three decades since Fairtrade-certified products first appeared on the supermarket shelves across the nation. The first, Green & Black’s Maya Gold Chocolate, was launched in 1994, followed by Cafédirect and Percol coffees, and Clipper tea.

There are now more than 6,000 Fairtrade products in the UK alone, and the number is growing all the time.

Globally, millions of farmers and workers in 70 countries are part of 1,930 Fairtrade certified producer organisations, benefitting from stable prices, community facilities such as education, healthcare and clean water which Fairtrade has funded, access to training and a platform for their voices to be heard.

Consumers have thrown their weight behind Fairtrade’s ongoing campaign to create a world in which trade is based on fairness, so that farmers and workers who produce our favourite foods are fairly paid.

Campaigners and activists are at the heart of the Fairtrade movement in the UK and the numbers speak for themselves. Since Fairtrade was launched 30 years ago, more than 600 towns and cities from all over the UK have signed up to support our mission.

Nearly 2,000 Fairtrade groups have sprung up in universities, communities and places of worship, while tens of thousands of children in Fairtrade schools are learning about trade justice for the farmers and workers who grow their food.

Campaigns have brought Fairtrade’s work to life – for example She Deserves A Living Income, launched in 2019 as part of an awareness-raising drive to highlight poverty among cocoa farmers in West Africa who supply our chocolate. As part of the push for living incomes by 2030, in line with UN Global Goals to end poverty, the campaign focused on shoppers, supporters and the lobbying the UK Government.

Rosine Bekoin and Cyr Leocadie Voho, cocoa farmers from Africa, came to the UK as part of the campaign to give media interviews in 2020. Community events reached a million people, and more than 50 partners, including Waitrose, Greggs, Clipper, the Co-op and Ben & Jerry’s, took part.

A unique hot chocolate salon sold drinks created by celebrity chefs Tess Ward, Melissa Hemsley and Tom Hunt, and each chocolate recipe had a hero farmer’s story behind it.
MPs contacted by their constituents asked questions in Parliament, launched Early Day motions, shared social media posts and put their names to the petition calling for living incomes.

This work continues with partners today, with big brands and retailers such as Ben & Jerry’s, Tony’s, Mars, Sainsbury’s and Lidl, who have all committed to investing raising incomes for farmers.

Fairtrade Foundation CEO Mike Gidney says: “We are incredibly excited to be able to mark this very important milestone. Fairtrade is all about building a fairer future for people in low-income countries who grow and make the things we rely on every day: our food, our clothes.

Thirty years on, we estimate that 10m people, including farmers, workers and their families across Africa, Latin America, and Asia benefit from sales of their products on Fairtrade terms.

“That’s an amazing achievement, and is thanks to the increasing dedication of companies in changing the way they trade, driven by huge, unstinting support from the British public.

“Of course, there is still so much to be done. Our world is perhaps more dangerous now than it was 30 years ago: the climate crisis, global insecurity, rising costs and long-term low pricing continue to threaten farmers’ futures. That matters to us all.

“Even while we celebrate the achievements of the Fairtrade movement, and the inspirational commitments of campaigners, communities and companies alike, we are as ambitious as we were on day one to bring the benefits of Fairtrade to more people.

“There will be many opportunities to celebrate this year, many stories of the inspiring people who have worked hard to build the Fairtrade movement over the years, bringing lasting change not only to farmers, but also to companies in the UK and to public attitudes too. We know from research that consumers want to be part of the change. That’s a wonderful mandate for companies to join in, so that together we really can make trade fair for everyone.”

In 2022 alone, sales of Fairtrade products in the UK generated approximately £30m in Fairtrade Premium for farmers and workers to invest in business and community projects of their choice, including healthcare, education and environmental initiatives – more important than ever given the global cost of living crisis.

As the Earth heats up, farmers in the low-income countries now urgently need to fund climate change adaption to protect their livelihoods and crops.

The 30th anniversary year will see the Fairtrade Foundation campaigning for farmers to earn a fairer price, receive a greater share of power in supply chains, and access the financial resources they urgently need to tackle the climate crisis.

Fairtrade is also committed to making sure farmers are not unfairly burdened by costs as part of new deforestation legislation from the UK and the EU.

Fairtrade Foundation has announced that it will be changing its usual Fairtrade Fortnight date, moving the annual two-week campaign from February to 9-22 September. Last year’s Fairtrade Fortnight saw more than 700 grassroots-led events take place around the country. More details will be available soon.  

Sadick Abanga, a Fairtrade cocoa farmer from Ghana, said: “We have officers to give us training and education, bonuses from the Premium, whether you are male or female you have a voice.”   

Richard Padilla, of EMPREBANCOOP, a banana SPO in Colombia, said: “I couldn’t run my farm or have a viable business without the Fairtrade Price and Premium. Production costs are so high at the moment, and I’d struggle to be able to sell internationally. With climate change on top of everything else, I wouldn’t be able to meet requirements on my own.

“Thanks to the Fairtrade Premium, I’ve been able to send my son to university. I now live in a proper house. Without Fairtrade, my son and others couldn’t have accessed higher education.”

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