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 Nestlé, 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

3 opmerkingen:

  1. I agree entirely with you, Jules, on that. The last years, there have been a lot of companies who used the words ‘fair trade’ for the politic they have followed. But I think, that there must be made a difference between the ‘real’ fair trade products and the others. As Jules said, the fair trade companies give the farmers a livable remuneration. Other companies, like for example Chiquita, take care of the environment or the community but use also ‘fair trade’.
    We have to be attentive when we can use ‘fair trade’ en when not.

    Lobke Callens
    Group 5

  2. It is true that the public should be made more aware about what fair trade really is about. I totally agree with Jules en Lobke that both companies and consumers see fair trade as charity, instead of an initiative that tries to create a lasting balance between developed and developing areas.

    Some companies' marketing campaigns have brought us too far away from the beautiful ideas Frans Van Der Hoff came up with. Fair trade is about finding a solution, not about salving one’s conscience!

    Bert Aelter

  3. I think you’re totally right, Jules. Fair trade is profitable. That’s why every company wants to offer fair trade products. But does it really matter why they promote fair trade? The main thing is that the farmers get their fair share.
    But sometimes I wonder why consumers buy fair trade products? Do they really think fair trade products are more delicious, more honest than other brands? Do they buy those products in order to support the development of local producers? Or do they buy fair trade products out of remorse? I don’t think the local producers really care about the reason why we buy fair trade products. As long as we do purchase the products, developing countries benefit.

    Justine Bleuze – Group 5