In defence of Fairtrade…

Following on from our previous blog post titled “The Real Cost Of Convenience – Why Some Subscription Coffee Plans Are Flawed” (which if you have not read, you can find at the bottom of this post) we will look into claims and comments made about the ethicality of certain subscription coffees and Fairtrade.

From the outset, we should reiterate our support for and belief in the Fairtrade Project. Over the last 25 years it has driven consumers to consider the origins and ethicality of the goods that they purchase and to question the fairness of treatment for many. Fairtrade have enriched many lives and regions, with fair payments and management as well as tackling social issues and environmental issue. This is often done by working with small farmers who wouldn’t have access to the global market and improving the quality of the commodities they provide.

However, that does not mean that we reject any attempts for a “fairer” system. Direct trade is a recent trend picked up by one subscription coffee company and is commendable in theory.

Some companies make a pact to pay more to their farmers than Fairtrade do but in elevating their own concept to further the sales of their (substantially) overpriced coffee, they have actively attacked Fairtrade claiming it “covers a multitude of sins”.

There is no “ethicality” in paying a little more for coffee than Fairtrade does then attacking the organisation that has achieved so much, paving the way for a more conscientious approach to buying goods whilst they sell coffee at over double the price per cup than most is an interesting if not contradictory approach.

Fairtrade utilise FLOCERT, a separate third party entity that ensures that measures, guidelines and claims made are all verifiably true – we know this from experience in how they protect their branding as we discovered more in a recent rebranding exercise that we carried out. Direct trade can enlist a third party to do the same, but in the case we found it seems there is not and, as such, their claims go unsubstantiated.

Our company is founded upon values and ethics that tie us directly with the ethos of Fairtrade. An attack on Fairtrade feels very much like an attack on us and our values – we are a small family-owned and run business being undermined by a faceless crowdfunded entity whose commitment is only to the bottom line. We feel that these comments and claims show disdain for businesses and  ethical organisations in what they are trying to achieve, condescension to the general public who have supported Fairtrade for over 25 years, a lack of respect to their customers in their often extortionate pricing and finally contempt for the farmers and workers simply trying to make a living to provide for their family.