Thursday, March 29, 2012

Victoria's Green Matters - 29th March 2012

Deal With IT's Secretary Victoria Nicholls writes a regular column in the East Kent Mercury:
 After ‘Fairtrade Fortnight’ it was interesting and heart-warming to read about the surprising increase in the sale of Fairtrade goods, despite our difficult economic times.

The growth in Fairtrade sales is largely due to moves by the top supermarkets to sell Fairtrade goods at the same price as conventional ones and their decision to make some ranges completely Fairtrade, for example, bananas. This, along with other products, such as coffee, tea and sugar are all available at our local supermarkets. Fairtrade sugar represents 42% of the UK retail sugar market.

The UK is the largest market for Fairtrade products. It is helped by support from trade unions, religious groups and the Fairtrade campaign but we must remember that it is still only a tiny proportion of goods worldwide – something like only 0.01% of all food and drink sales.

Most Fairtrade products are grown but not processed in the poorer countries and the profits available from processing remain in the developed world. Marks & Spencer has recently made changes to this by launching a Fairtrade tea that is grown, processed and packaged in Kenya.

We must realise that shopping on its own will not change a grossly unfair system – but ‘every little helps’, as the saying goes. It should not be philanthropy but rights that give the developing countries what they need. The problem of a handful of super powerful corporations dictating trade terms and taking all the profit for themselves needs to be addressed with political action.

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