Not so Fair Trade?

by Organikal on March 11, 2006

Not so Fair Trade?

I was on the sofa (missing tai chi class due to this blasted cold) watching some tv last night as I wasn’t able to turn my attention to anything more productive due to the streaming eyes, nose etc etc… I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.

I came across The Money Programme on BBC2, with a show entitled Not so Fair Trade. The first thought that came to mind was that some boffins somewhere had decided to disillusion my support for Fair Trade by telling me the very people I think I’m providing valuable support to were not in fact receiving that support. (I find myself on the end of much bashing of this nature, as I strive to do good, and other folks strive very hard to knock me off the pedestal they imagine I put myself on every time I divert from the everyday course of consumerism, which of course is so very not the way it is.)

Thankfully, I was proved wrong. What did emerge from the programme was that we the ethically-minded consumer – were in fact being ripped off yet again – in particular by the supermarkets. This was not the main theme of the programme, which explored the larger issue of Fairtrade UK selling out to big business – in the form of supermarkets, global companies like Nestle etc, but the revelations about how supermarkets are capitalising on the growth of Fairtrade and charging a premium over and above what is necessary to ensure a fair deal for growers/suppliers was the point that held most immediate interest for me.

I will admit to feeling very smug throughout the programme as we made the decision at the end of last year not to shop from supermarkets. This has been a terribly easy shift for us – much much easier than we ever thought it would be.

Last night’s programme was yet another reason not to. I always admit to going with my gut feel on many things — whilst not abandoning myself to blind faith, I don’t need to understand the very fine points of every argument for and against every decision I make — and my gut feel on supermarkets is that they are very bad.

I was compiling a list of pros and cons on this very subject on the train the other day. I’ll dig it out and post it – I hope the programme, and my list may just inspire others to make the stand – and find an alternative.

BTW, you can see the Fairtrade Foundation’s response to the points raised in the programme at

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