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Where can I get free promotional materials?

We’ve got loads of promotional materials, many of them free, available to order from our Shop Fairtrade e-shop.

Some people say buy local rather than buy Fairtrade what is the Fairtrade Foundations response?

Buy both! We recognise that many farmers in the UK face similar issues to farmers elsewhere, not least ensuring that they get a fair return for upholding decent social and environmental standards in their production. We therefore support the promotion of sustainable production for UK farmers but our specific role will continue to be supporting farmers from the developing world. Fairtrade isn’t in competition with UK farmers and buying local and buying Fairtrade need not be mutually exclusive. Fairtrade focuses mainly on products such as coffee and bananas that can’t be grown in temperate climates or products that can’t be grown in sufficient quantities in the EU e.g. grapes and oranges. For some items such as honey and flowers, local supply is not able to meet the total demand - it has been estimated that both UK flowers and honey account for less than one-third of the UK market - and so imports are necessary to meet demand. Other products, such as apples, are seasonal in both the UK and places like South Africa, and for as long as shoppers want to buy apples out of season, there is a demand for fruit from other countries. Often the choice facing shoppers is not necessarily between local honey and Fairtrade certified honey but between Fairtrade honey and conventional honey imported from, say, the US or China. It is up to each person to weigh up these choices and shop accordingly. Ultimately, it is up to each person to do what they see as being in the interests of people and our planet. What is important is that we all try to make informed choices wherever possible. We are committed to raising awareness of ways in which buying products carrying the FAIRTRADE Mark is empowering and strengthening the future for disadvantaged farmers and workers in developing countries.

I am a student doing a project on Fairtrade can the Fairtrade Foundation send me information?

While we are very pleased that so many students produce dissertations and projects on various aspects of Fairtrade, limited time and resources make it impossible for us to reply to requests like this, or to agree to individual interviews or respond to personal questionnaires. For school and undergraduate student projects, we have put as much information on our website to enable you to find answers to most questions we are asked as part of these projects. In particular, try visiting the the Resources and Producers section of the website and Fairtrade Schools section.

Is buying Fairtrade products a good idea given concerns on climate change?

There is no doubt that far-reaching global action has to be taken now to deal with climate change. However if the debate around this issue becomes overly concerned with the question of food miles, this could severely damage opportunities for sustainable forms of export agriculture to contribute to the economic and social development of poor farmers and workers. Agriculture can play a critical role in the economic and social development of developing countries – up to one and a half million livelihoods in Africa alone are estimated to be dependent upon UK consumption of agricultural and horticultural produce. Increased agricultural growth is thought to be the most likely source of economic growth in Africa given that 70 per cent of its rural poor work on the land. Fairtrade certification ensures that the benefits of agriculture accrue to marginalised and disadvantaged producers. While an international consensus has been reached on the science of climate change, what is now needed is a balanced debate on the best way forward to reduce the impact of climate change while also supporting developing countries in tackling poverty and promoting sustainable development.

My local shop doesnt offer Fairtrade products What can I do?

You can order leaflets from us explaining Fairtrade and give them to the manager, while politely asking them to stock Fairtrade. And when they do, support them by telling others and buying the Fairtrade products!

Where can I get free samples of Fairtrade products for an event?

The Fairtrade Foundation is unable to provide samples. However, if you contact Fairtrade registered licensees directly, they can often provide samples of tea, coffee, sugar and chocolate. At Ethicalsuperstore.com you can also find activist kits containing Fairtrade product samples from selected companies.

Why doesnt Fairtrade certify large coffee plantations?

Around 70% of the world’s coffee farmers are small-scale growers, and they face particular disadvantages in the market place. Fairtrade’s mission is to make trade work for marginalised or disadvantaged producers, and therefore there is a global agreement that the system should offer champion purchase of sustainable coffee from organisations of small coffee farmers explicitly. Read our fairtrade_and_coffee_plantations (22.25KB) (PDF) to find out more.

Why doesnt the FAIRTRADE Mark apply to UK farmers?

The FAIRTRADE Mark was established specifically to support the most disadvantaged producers in the world by using trade as a tool for sustainable development. We do recognise that many farmers in the UK face similar issues as farmers elsewhere, not least ensuring that they get a decent return for upholding social and environmental standards in their production. However there are also some major differences. For example, farmers in developing countries often have little infrastructural support, social security systems or other safety nets available if they cannot get a fair price for their products. Our Fairtrade standards, and our expertise, are specifically focused on enabling producers in developing countries tackle poverty through trade. If the Foundation diverted its own attention from this mission, this could potentially end up diluting the benefits of Fairtrade for the very farmers and workers we were established to support. We agree that the principles behind fair trade may provide useful insight into the debate on improving the situation for UK producers. However, the Foundation is not convinced, that a labelling scheme is the right solution to the problems affecting UK farmers. A plethora of similar sounding labelling initiatives could result in confusion for consumers and undermine both the local cause and the global situation we care so deeply about. Rather than yet another label, the Foundation believes a more rigorous investigation by government and the industry itself is needed. This should look into the causes behind the problems being experienced by domestic producers, so that more robust and wide reaching policy tools can be identified – to benefit all affected farmers, and to reassure all concerned shoppers.

Why isnt the Fairtrade price calculated as a percentage of the retail price?

We are often asked how much farmers receive from the retail price of a product sold on Fairtrade terms compared to the same product sold on conventional terms. While this type of comparison may appear to be a simple way to demonstrate the impact of Fairtrade from the consumer’s perspective, it doesn’t actually address the real inequities in typical conventional market arrangements. For producers, the value of Fairtrade is not about the relationship of their selling price to that of the finished product, but to their costs of production and the conventional market price. There are also many complex and variable factors to take into account in comparing different elements of the final price paid by consumers which can be misleading. For example, the price received by a cocoa or coffee producer selling to the conventional market depends on many factors including: - fluctuating international market prices - the producer ‘cut’ from a chocolate bar will vary according to the international price of cocoa at the time of sale and the percentage cocoa content of the bar - whether the producer is an independent smallholder or a plantation worker - whether the smallholder/co-operative/plantation carries out processing or other value-added operations - whether a smallholder sells directly to a local buyer or is a member of a co-operative - whether the co-operative sells to local traders or to auction, or exports the product on behalf of its members - local trading conditions – these can vary greatly within a country let alone within different continents e.g. whether the industry has been liberalised or is state-regulated - the varying costs of production from country to country. Once the primary product is sold to a certified Fairtrade importer, the costs are similar to those for a conventional product – transport and export costs; shipping and insurance; import licences and taxes; ripening or processing; packing; warehousing and distribution; marketing and promotion and; retailer overheads. The Fairtrade Foundation has no control or influence over commercial costs or margins. And because the major costs of the finished product are incurred after the producer has sold the commodity, the return to the producer will inevitably make up a relatively small percentage of the retail price.

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