Saturday 12th May is World Fair Trade Day. If your business revolves around coffee, tea, chocolate or any of the foods and commodities available under the Fairtrade certification scheme, this matters. And if you’re sourcing non-Fairtrade coffee and tea, it’s time to switch. The aim of the Fairtrade scheme is to ensure that the farmers, the people growing and harvesting the food your business is based upon, get a fair price for their produce. A price that allows them to live, and to survive a bad harvest when it happens. Funding also goes to clean water projects and schools in developing countries. The final cost for coffee shops, pubs, restaurants and snack bars is relatively small, yet Fairtrade certification – just as with organic produce – brings with it recognition and value which customers appreciate.
It’s easy to assume, since Fairtrade has existed for so long, that all the coffee we buy in the UK is certified. Not so. The most recent statistic we could find dates back to 2004, when just 20% of the coffee we import was certified. It’s a fair bet that less than half of all coffee available has been sourced from guaranteed ethical and sustainable sources. The Fairtrade system may not be perfect – it’s suggested that still not enough money finds its way back to the smallholders and cooperatives who grow the produce – but it’s ever-evolving and it’s the best we’ve got.
It’s strange that most of us would consider buying non-Fairtrade coffee unacceptable, yet our awareness fades when we turn to tea and chocolate. It’s a bit rich when we expect people to pay us what we consider a fair price for a coffee, a tea or a slice of cake, if we aren’t prepared to do the same for our ingredients.
So, on World Fair Trade Day, take a look at your ingredients. How much of it comes from certified, sustainable and, better still, organic sources? Could you increase that percentage and easily recoup the additional cost with small increases in prices? We think so. Not least because once you can boast that you use only fairly sourced produce, you’ll win loyalty and respect and positive word of mouth. Remember how we talked about finding a niche for your business locally? Being ethical is a biggie, believe it or not.
If all of your coffee, tea and delicious chocolate is already Fairtrade certified, then today of all days you need to shout it loud. Head to www.fairtrade.org.uk for all sorts of helpful information on everything from buying Fairtrade to marketing your coffee shop. And on that note, if spotting this blog post is the first time you realised the importance of the second Saturday in May every year, then you need to bookmark and refer to our coffee shop calendar for reminders on all the dates offering great marketing opportunities for cafés, teashops and eateries everywhere.