At my last visit to Lidl – prices of fruit and veg cut by 70% – I have noticed a shelf full of new fairtrade products. The brand is called “Fairglobe”, but I am getting a bit suspicious of all the fairtrade products creeping into big supermarket chains and cafes such as Starbucks. I would be very keen to examine and investigate this issue, in particular after seeing Jan Nimmo’s film about the fairtrade banana production in Panama. She shows in her film, that not all fairtrade labels are actually produced under the ethical circumstances we would expect from the label; like the minimisation of pesticides, the possibility to form and join a trade union, health & safety protection for the workers in particular in regards to chemicals, health care for their workers and families, enabling school visits for the workers children, and protecting the environment do that in particular the drinking water, the fishes, the farm animals and the people are safe from waste and residues.
At the discussion about fairtrade, which took place in Dundee University in spring, companies which just pay a slightly higher price for the product, but employ the same unethical production guidelines, were criticised for being allowed to call themselves “fairtrade”.
On the other hand, co-operatives have to compete against these industrial cashcrops multinational farming methods, and often would have to sell their produce below their standard fairtrade price to mix in with other non-fairtrade produce.
The documentary about Africa’s Gold, Rice and Chocolate production in Ghana, which was screened yesterday on Channel4, also picked up some important issues about fairtrade but also criticised IMF and WB policies.