Nestlé has just announced that KitKat – Britain’s biggest-selling chocolate bar – will carry the Fairtrade logo from next month. But how much do consumers really know about the Fairtrade movement? Is it, as some say, an essential safety net that helps poor farmers earn a better living or, as others say, an example of western feel-good tokenism that holds back modernisation and entrenches agrarian poverty?
There are now more than 4,500 Fairtrade items on our shelves. UK sales boomed by 43% in 2008 and the British government has announced a four-year £15m funding package for the organisation.
Fairtrade provides a minimum baseline price for commodities, allowing farmers to hedge against market volatility. The co-operative system allows small farmers better access to global markets and encourages democratic representation. Each commodity price also includes a “social premium” which can be reinvested in social or development projects.