maandag 29 november 2010


We all heard about fair trade coffee, wine, chocolate,... But have you ever thought there would be fair trade Vodka? It exist!

A non-profit making organisation, TransFair USA, recently launched FAIR.Vodka. The FAIR.Vodka is the first fair trade alcoholic product. You can buy a bottle for 35,00 USD in Bay Area stores and restaurants in America.

As Jean-Francois Daniel, co-founder of Fair Trade Spirits Company, said, fair trade products don’t give the farmers charity, but they get a liveable wage for their products so that they can invest. The alcoholic drink is made by Bolivian farmers. The FAIR.Vodka is a result of two years research by French chemicals, distillers.

The company also created another fair trade spirit: FAIR. Goji, a berry fruit liqueur. The liqueur is made by berries of the Himalaya. To make the liqueur, they extract the essence of the fruit.

It amazed me that fair trade spirits exist. But it is a good way, to give the producers (especially farmers) a liveable wage.

Lobke Callens
Group 5

zaterdag 27 november 2010

A fair price for the local farmers?

Consumers pay more for fair trade products, but critical people are wondering how much of this fair price is actually paid to the local farmers.
Oxfam assures the farmers indeed receive a fair price. But it’s very difficult to determine precisely how much the farmers receive because market prices fluctuate. Every day, market prices increase and decline. Not only market prices, but there are also other factors such as transportation, country and quality that determine the price that farmers receive. Though it’s very difficult to fix a fair price, there do exist fair trade minimum prices.
Oxfam claims they really pay one third of the returns.  At first, I thought one third wasn’t a lot. But we may not forget the Oxfam organisations have to pay the co-workers and they also have to finance the yearly campaigns. Of course, Oxfam is some kind of charity institution, but an organisation cannot function without capital.
If all these factors are considered, we can conclude the developing countries do receive a so-called fair trade price. But I wonder what’s the use of paying a fair price if there’s a lack of knowledge? Maybe more is needed than just a fair price. In my opinion, it might be a better idea to encourage Western engineers to go to developing countries in order to help them expand decent infrastructure.

Justine Bleuze – Group 5

dinsdag 23 november 2010


A company that spends a lot of time on environmentally-friendly producing is Chiquita. Chiquita is the largest producer and distributor of bananas. The multinational has a market share of about 40%. As you can read on, the company has four core values:
·         Integrity
         Which means that they communicate with an open attitude.
·         Respect
         Chiquita takes their responsibility for a better live of their employees. The
         employees get a good work-life balance and they treat all the people the
·         Opportunity
         They believe that it is important to spend a lot of time on the development
         and growth of their employees. Teamwork is a good solution to encourage
         personal development.
·         Responsibility
         They take their responsibility for the pollution of the earth and the places
         where they work.

I will discuss one of Chiquita’s four core values: ‘Responsibility’.
Chiquita has done a lot of effort for the environment, for example:
One of Chiquita’s farms has been made into a nature preserve. The farm has an  area of hundred hectares, and it is used for tropical rainforest. Chiquita also has a Rainforest Alliance Certificate. Rainforest Alliance is an organisation that takes their responsibility for a durable agriculture. Chiquita has accommodated to meet the rigorous standards. The symbol of the Rainforest Alliance Certificate is the green frog on the left. As everybody knows, the rainforest is the largest forest in the world. It is responsible for the equilibrium of the environment. Millions of different animals and plants live and grow there. Deforestation is not good for the equilibrium, so Chiquita reforests and conserves the ground. They also built a water recycling system, so that they reuse water instead of wasting water. The banana multinational also takes their social responsibility. They give their staff a remuneration and benefits that are higher than the legal salary. They also give their employees schooling and medical care.

Chiquita has made a big advance. In the beginning of the nineties, Chiquita had participated in the Better Banana Project. There were a lot of problems: deforestation, over-reliance on pesticides, poor working conditions and waste management. [1] Every banana that was not good enough to sell on the market, they dropped on a mountain. If there were one ton of bananas sold, there was two ton of waste produced.

But during the years, Chiquita has advanced and had made a lot of efforts to take their responsibility. In my opinion, it is good that they want to take responsibility for the environment and the community. But we have to be sure that it is not a ‘lie’ of the management of the company. It has to be controlled by extern controllers, because there are a lot of people who don’t believe these facts.

Lobke Callens, Group 5


zondag 21 november 2010

Fairtrade is in crisis

According to one of the co-founders of the Fairtrade system, Frans Van Der Hoff,  Fairtrade is facing a crucial crisis which should be a wake-up call for analyzing and rethinking the current situation.

Fairtrade products are misinterpreted as “charity goods”  which started to confuse people about the true goals and impact of the system. The misunderstandings are caused by the constant creation of new labeling systems and by the fact that big stores also want a piece of the action. Big companies like NestlĂ©, Wal-Mart and Starbuck are just in it for the money according to Van Der Hoff. They see it merely as a new potential market that can increase margins.

The Western countries can’t just undo what they have created by raising some money, the real solution lies in the creation of a different system that takes other values into account.
Van Der Hoff points out that the original objectives of fairtrade come down to 2 things. First of all, it provides a minimal income and creates a kind of security for the local producers who can then start to expand their business.  Second of all, these farmers get together and organize themselves so they can get the government to start listening to them (political empowerment).  "Fairtrade has to be about changing the way of doing business!"
It seems like fairtrade is more than just a system, it should be perceived as an attitude. But I don’t think that selling those products for profit-reasons is a bad thing. I doubt it that the local producers are unhappy when stores distribute their products “for the wrong reasons”. Isn’t it something positive when we can finally say that free trade and fair trade can actually come in one package?(Fairtradecommunity + interview)

Jules Branswyck – Group 5

Tompkins Point Clothing Is First Fair-Trade Certified Clothing Designer in USA

Most of the discussions about fair trade are situated in the food sector, people especially talk about coffee plantations. But fair trade deals with much more than just the alimentary sector. We should take a look at the general view of all businesses, so clothing can’t be forgotten.

Tompkins Point Clothing is a very good example of fair trade in the clothing business. Scott Leeder, the founder of this enterprise, grew up in New Jersey as a typical American citizen and he started his career at Wall Street. But suddenly, his life changed drastically when he accepted a job as chief financial officer at an organic trading company, which is settled  in Hyderabad, a town in India.

After having seen the living conditions at the farms, he decided to create a company with fair trade instead of benefits as main goal: Tompkins Point Clothing. The big difference with other companies is that he buys his sources directly from the farmers,  to be able to pay them a higher remuneration. This way of trading is a very good example how fair trade can be put in reality in almost every business.

But the company’s fair trade activities don’t stop there. Tompkins Point Clothing really invests in the future of the Indians with lots of initiatives, for example by funding the education of all their factory workers’ children.
Tompkins Point Clothing shows us how quality and fair trade can live equally together, and the enterprise sets an example every business should try to follow.

Bert Aelter

donderdag 18 november 2010


In 2000, Ben & Jerry’s, the popular ice cream company, acquired the brand of Unilever Corporation. However, a lot of fans thought the company would lose ethical stance, but they were wrong.
Many costumers buy Ben & Jerry’s for their ethics. The company has a social responsibility. Ten years after they received the brand, Ben & Jerry’s is making plans to replace all the ingredients by fair trade products.
By 2013, the company will have changed the whole production of 121 different tastes, they will compose the products of Fair Trade Certified ingredients. Everything is mentioned in their “entire global flavour portfolio”. Ben & Jerry’s will collaborate with more than 27.000 farmers.  
The company already used some Fair Trade Certified ingredients. I agree entirely with Jerry Greenfield (co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s) on what he says: “I felt that only going part way wasn't enough. I believe it's a question of simple fairness.” [1]
In my opinion, every company has to use Fair Trade Certified products. Using fair trade products is a good way to make sure that every farmer or producer gets a normal, fair price for their products, protects the employees so that they are no longer exploited,... I think it’s very important that everyone can work in good working conditions for a good and liveable remuneration. I don’t want to buy products that are made by employees that are exploited, and I hope they will change something about it !
Callens lobke
Group 5

maandag 15 november 2010

How deep is consumer demand for fair trade?

People all over the world realize that fair trade is an important issue that can not be ignored. This article gives us the answer to the following question: do customers really adapt their shopping behaviour?

According to survey, the answer clearly is yes! Despite the economic recession we are facing at the moment, the sales of Fair Trade Certified products continue to rise considerably. Due to the crisis, the growth slowed down but the sales of fair trade goods still increased by 10%, which is very remarkable.

This striking trend hasn’t been unnoticed by companies, who are all aware of the fact that fair trade could be the gap in the market they are all looking for. Selling fair trade products can provide salesmen a huge market advance.

We can conclude that this trend of growing sense of responsibility can entail nothing but advantages, as the group of socially-minded people has expanded from a few idealists to a very large group of consumers.

Bert Aelter – group 5

Increasing awareness about fairtrade: the practical solutions

One of the most important objectives for fairtrade organizations in this stage, must be making people more aware about their cause. Institutions like schools and companies are the perfect channel to start teaching people about fairtrade.
On the one hand, we have the education system that can play a crucial role in all of this.
We can’t forget that a person’s way of thinking is highly influenced by their school environment as a child. First of all it’s obviously a good place to hang posters and give out flyers so teenagers know the fairtrade products are there. More important is getting them familiar with the brand by integrating some of the products in the school lunch for example. The third aspect is the integration in the curriculum: presentations or plays about fairtrade, games, school fieldtrips, videos,…  These things actively involve the child and are proven to be very effective.

On the other hand, you have the companies, where the implementation can take place on two levels. The first one is focussing on your own employees (the practical implementation here is similar to the one in schools). The second aspect is new: actually offering the fairtrade products. To make this happen, the company has to be convinced that it’s a market full of potential. One of the ways to prove this, could be offering a sort of “starting kit” that they can launch so they can see its potential with their own eyes.
Based on three PowerPoints that you can find on the website of fairtradegemeenten under “informatieve powerpoints en filmpjes”:
-          “PowerPoint voor het overtuigen van bedrijven”
-          “PowerPoint aanbod fairtrade lager onderwijs”
-          “PowerPoint aanbod fairtrade secundair onderwijs”
Jules Branswyck – Group 5

Fair trade: Pros and cons

Fair trade organisations all agree on the effectiveness of their projects.  The latest successful achievements are uncountable. Almost every shop promotes fair trade products so that developing countries can stimulate their economies.
But critics disagree. In the first place, this is an infringement on the free market mechanism. Second, local farmers indeed receive a fair price for their products, higher than the market price. But a few extra dollars won’t cause enough radical improvements. Fair trade is too small scaled. The extra amount of money they receive doesn’t stimulate industrialisation as much as it actually should. A lack of knowledge limits modernisation. That’s why companies should invest more in agricultural methods. Another criticism is that developing farmers become dependent of Western fair trade organisations and their conscious consumers.
But the fair trade spokeswoman strikes back. Developing countries do spend their money on social projects, education and business projects. New modern infrastructure is built too.
Of course, every system has its shortcomings. But I am convinced the fair trade organisations are doing a great job  in the fight against poverty. We should be proud of fair trade organisations that try to stop poverty from the bottom up. And as long as the local farmers are pleased with the results they achieve, who are we to question the efforts of fair trade organisations?
Justine Bleuze – Group 5

vrijdag 12 november 2010

Fair trade in Brazil

In Ceara, a state in the north-east of Brazil, there is another example that shows us how the beautiful theory of fair trade can be translated to reality. In the middle of a poor area, an organisation called World Vision helped local farmers and their families and gave them the opportunity to build a future.

World Vision taught them some modern techniques to multiply their harvest several times. But that is not the only thing the organisation did for these families. They also connected them with markets all over the world, especially in Europe. This results in two big benefits.  First, they enlarge their markets. As they can sell enough products to earn a decent living, they can specialize in one specific good instead of wasting their energy in growing different plants. The second advantage is that the prices foreign companies pay, go straight to the farmers. They earn a normal income for their job. And after all, that is what fair trade is about.

This project shows us how some organisations help people all over the world to get a better life, and these organisations should be supported as much as possible.

Bert Aelter – group 5

woensdag 10 november 2010

Celebrities supporting fair trade clothing

According to the famous Harry Potter star Emma Watson, everything should be fair trade.
She wants to contribute to this cause by creating a range for the ethical clothing brand People Tree.
Many people think this is just another example of celebrity endorsement. What are her intentions? Does she want to polish her image or does she really care about the awful situation in developing countries? It appears that Emma Watson really is concerned about fair trade. During the whole process, she was involved. I do think it’s extremely important celebrities use their status to bring fair trade to our attention.
What happens in the fashion industry, has a big impact on people, especially when a certain brand is promoted by a famous person. She’s a young actress, and adored by many female teenagers. If she sets a good example, many teenagers will follow and be more conscious when they buy clothes.
Miss Watson thinks it’s better to buy their clothes than just deposit money. In most cases, cash doesn’t help the poorest ones. Buying fair trade clothing ensures that these lower classes  will benefit too.
Why can’t everything be fair trade? Of course, fair trade products are more expensive. But a survey shows that most people are willing to pay more for fair trade clothes. Fair trade products allow the very poorest in developing countries to make a decent living. The whole world would benefit.
It sure is a little sad that people consume fair trade products just because of the fact an actress is involved in the campaign. But that’s what it takes to make people care about fair trade and buy fair trade products.
Justine Bleuze - Group 5

Finding fairer ways to trade

More and more people are looking for a new trade model that can replace the current deregulated free marked system praised by the Word Trade Organization (WTO).
Fairtrade alternatives address to the ethical consumer market and the actual producers who should get what they have worked for whereas the aggressive free trade model is a system of unfairness, exploitation and dominance according to some critical minds.
A lot of the recent criticism that the WTO has to deal with, are due to the current economic crisis where it has showed its insufficiency. Lots of big brands (like Nestlé with KitKat) therefore want to catch a ride on the Fairtrade train by presenting themselves as a fairtrade organization.

Bit-by-bit practical alternatives are rising to the surface, hoping to get people to think more ethically. However, I'm concerned about the possibility that if the fairtrade model becomes a generally acknowledged and applied model, competition could start taking the upper hand again. The price is and will stay one of the principal indicators in consumer behavior. So to change the model, you ought better first change the general state of mind. (The Guardian)

Jules Branswyck - Group 5

zondag 7 november 2010

Starbucks employees see the graft before the grind

Starbucks, the famous coffee business, has sent some European employees to Africa to work in the farms and co-operatives that provide the company coffee beans.

The main reason why they organized this project, is because they want to create a so-called emotional connection between their staff and its product. This initiative, however, has another asset: by seeing the hard work of farmers in undeveloped countries, the employees feel more connected with them. This connection makes sure that the staff will not only try to sell as many goods as possible, but it also makes sure that fair-trade stays one of Starbucks’ main goals.

According to me, this is a great initiative, one Starbucks can be proud of. It makes the whole company aware of the necessity of fair-trade. And as the employees who went to the farms, will share this special experience with their colleagues, fair-trade will become even more important.

Bert Aelter – group 5

vrijdag 5 november 2010

Fairtrade towns to top 500

Over the last decade, people have become more and more aware of what fairtrade is and a lot of towns have received the label of being a “Fairtrade town”.

Not only in regular towns but also in the bigger cities, the fairtrade-message is spreading hoping to make shopping habits more ethical.  Even so, the “giving back” aspect often comes hand in hand with a “taking from” part: these towns also benefit from their better image as they tackle these social issues.

Still, the awareness of Fairtrade-products has indeed skyrocketed over the last 10 years because more and more shop owners became willing to give these products a chance. Nevertheless, we can’t forget that Fairtrade still has a long way to go, not only in the UK but definitely in places like the U.S. An important next step for the Fairtrade towns is building up (and maintaining) relationships with the producer communities to increase the social awareness about their wellbeing even more.
(The Guardian)

Jules Branswyck - Group 5: Fairtrade

donderdag 4 november 2010


International Fair Trade organisations are doing a great effort to provide a decent wage for small coffee farmers in developing countries.
Coffee is big business. All over the world, people consume coffee. Every day new coffee shops are established. A few big corporations make billions of dollars of profits a year, whereas more than 20 million traditional coffee farming families experience difficulties making the necessary profits and maintain their businesses. They can’t compete with the multinationals, therefore they often have to leave their home and have to work underpaid in a big coffee plantation.
The situation is getting worse. Due to falling coffee prices, the farmers earn even less. That’s why some farmers have to borrow  money from agents, loans which they cannot repay. That’s why certain organisations, including Oxfam, are trying to find a way out of this misery for many local farmers, so that the global South gets equal chances to develop.The Fair Trade system guarantees  a minimum wage of 1,26 USD per pound of coffee, so that farmers can meet their basic needs. In this system, everybody benefits, and so do the farmers. Of course, Fair Trade coffee is more expensive. But a  recent survey indicates that 41% of Canadians would be more than  willing to pay a little extra for Fair Trade coffee.
According to me, it’s extremely important  that the developed countries invest in Fair Trade products. I think consumers can have a big influence in this. I totally agree with Lobke. We all know that local producers are exploited by multinationals. If we don’t stand up for them, who will? If we don’t demand Fair Trade products, large corporations will keep on exploiting local farmers, in order to offer the cheapest products. Multinationals make billions of dollars a day, whereas the local producers don’t even earn a decent living. But if we, mostly Western consumers, are willing to pay more for Fair Trade products, we can help the development of local economies. In the end, the whole world will benefit.
Justine Bleuze - Group 5


We all know that there are still a lot of children working in bad working conditions for a low remuneration. In the chocolate industry, there are too much children working as well. In 2001, the cacao and chocolate industry made an agreement to stop the worst forms of child labour in Ghana and Ivory Coast up until 2005. Last year, Tulane University made a report about the awful situation in this industry.
  • Hardly four percent of the working children go to school.
  • They work under the worst conditions of child labour.
  • In Ivory Coast, there is the biggest trafficking in children to work on a cacao farm.
So nine years later, there is no improvement.

Oxfam Belgium has started a campaign to combat the abuse in the cacao sector. Their slogan is:
“I don’t like child slavery. Fair trade chocolate = really child friendly”

I think everyone knows that there is a lot of child labour in the world, specifically in the third world. But when we eat chocolate, we don’t think about the people who made the chocolate and in which working conditions they did that. We have to become more conscious of this big problem and fight against the child labour. If we don’t do anything, it will change nothing and the cacao farmers will take advantage of this situation.

Lobke Callens - Group 5