CHRIS MANN: Fairtrade Fortnight began today with the news that trade figures for Fairtrade businesses are booming, bucking the overall commercial trend, the fair trade in cocoa is up by a third on last year, sugar up by a fifth, and bananas coffee and tea all showing significant growth. People are turning to Fairtrade. To tell us more, I’m joined live in the studio now by Pat Heap of Fairtrade Cambridge. Pat, good evening.
PAT HEAP: Good evening.
CHRIS MANN: What exactly is Fairtrade. first of all, for those who haven’t heard of it?
PAT HEAP: It’s a way of providing a sustainable livelihood to farmers and workers, mainly in developing countries, who are very vulnerable to the markets of the west. And it’s a way of making sure that they get a fair income for the work that they do, the crops they produce, and that they are able to plan for the future. It’s about caring for the environment, producing things sustainably.
CHRIS MANN: So it’s making sure they’re not exploited, and paying a fair price for things.
PAT HEAP: Yes.
CHRIS MANN: And it seems, from the figures that we’re looking at now, that estimated retail sales of Fairtrade products in 2011 reached almost one and a half billion pounds. Extraordinary!
PAT HEAP: Yes.
CHRIS MANN: So it’s working as far as you’re concerned.
PAT HEAP: Yes. This is its 20th year. It started in 1992 with campaigns just about coffee and bananas. But now it extends to over 3,000 products that have got the Fairtrade mark on them.
CHRIS MANN: And pretty much all of the big names that I know in the supermarket trade, for instance, Tesco, Sainsurys, Waitrose, Co-op, Morrisons and so on, they’re all behind you, aren’t they?
PAT HEAP: Oh they are. Yes. Particularly places like the Co-op. They are very supportive of Fairtrade. But it’s about the little shops as well.
CHRIS MANN: Of course it is. How do people make sure that what they’re buying is Fairtrade?
PAT HEAP: Everything that is registered with the Fairtrade Foundation has the Fairtrade mark on it. And it’s that funny little green and blue round trademark. And if that is on the product, then it has been fairly traded. It means that whoever’s produced it, whoever’s grown the crops, has got a sustainable income, something that makes their livelihood, so they can look forward to send their children to school, and get basic health care.
CHRIS MANN: And can it really work, that people here in Cambridgeshire can affect the lives of people on the other side of the world, by what they buy in their local supermarket or corner shop?
PAT HEAP: Everything you buy with the Fairtrade mark on helps those people. And during Fairtrade Fortnight, the Steering Grouping in Cambridge are going round all the retail outlets and catering outlets, and we’re giving them a window sticker if they sell four or more Fairtrade products. And so we’re asking people, as they do their shopping, if they don’t see the Fairtrade sticker in the window, to let us know, if that shop or restaurant or whatever it is is selling more than four Fairtrade products. So we’d like people to really be aware of Fairtrade while they’re shopping, as well as buying Fairtrade products.
CHRIS MANN: And the website for that is www.fairtrade.org.uk. Pat Heap, from Fairtrade Cambridge, thank you so much for joining me.