Fair Trade: Between Progress and Cash

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The fair trade market continues to grow, and in France, for the first time, sales crossed the €2 billion mark in 2021, an increase of 11% according to the Fair Trade Observatory. To mark the opening of Fair Trade Fortnight that runs through May 22nd, take a look at the system that claims to promote fair compensation for producers.

In the context of a stagnant consumer market (-0.3% for sales of fresh produce and self-service products in 2021 – a source of LSA), and purchasing power undermined by inflation, it is surprising to see the continued growth of Fair Trade. Explanation 1: Consumers remain committed to the fair compensation values ​​of producers. Fair trade products from southern countries will see their consumption increase by 12% in 2021 in France. These products account for 65% of total sales.

There is also, according to market leader Max Havelaar, a rebound effect after Covid-19 for consumption outside the home: in cafeterias, coffee machines, restaurants and canteens. Coffee remains the best-selling Fair Trade product. Bananas by Fair Trade also crossed a milestone in 2021, thanks to presence in all distribution brands. And finally the chocolate fair deal It went from 1000 to 2000 references in one year. Chocolate products are seeing significant growth of +28% in 2021, according to the Fair Trade Observatory.

In the current context of rising prices for many foodstuffs, what is the position of fair trade brands?

For Max Havelaar, the answer is ” Fair Trade is a long-distance race In other words, ensuring a minimum income for the producers, and decent social standards for the workers, means protecting them from the fluctuations of the market, so that they do not suffer regression…and de factoThe price does not increase either. This is the whole principle of this system.

For Frederic Amell, a researcher at the Institute for Sustainable Development in International Relations (IDDRI), the problem lies elsewhere: this guaranteed price for producers is not high enough today to guarantee an improvement in their standard of living. We should rather Rethinking the regulation of trade in agricultural products, by ceasing to consider Fair Trade products as complementary to those already installed in supermarkets, and imposing Fair Trade standards on all products ” (source : Cross).

Because if fair trade was initially thought of as an alternative to global trade, by rethinking North-South relations, today voices are being raised to denounce the environmental impact of this system that depends on international trade, where the current trend is to favor local and seasonal products to avoid throwing several Tons of carbon dioxide2 into the atmosphere during the transport of nutrients.

At Max Havelaar, Fair Trade now also applies to many “Made in France” products. The brand has partnered with milk producers from Cotentin in Normandy, but also with producers in the wheat sector in Gers. The idea is not only to ensure a decent life for producers in the south, but also to take care of the fate of French farmers, 18% of whom live below the poverty line. The label certifies manufactured products that combine ingredients from both parts of the world, including white cheese with vanilla from Madagascar and 100% fair-trade certified cane sugar available this week in France.

Many labels

According to a European study, price remains the main obstacle to consumer fair trade. But the economic factor is not the only factor to be taken into consideration. Lack of information and understanding also plays a role. There are dozens of fair trade brands around the world today.

In France, climate law stipulates that from 2023 all fair trade products must carry a recognized label or guarantee system.

Fair Trade players are also calling for a government support fund equivalent to an organic fund. They also expect distributors to create custom shelves and “mirrored clauses” in business negotiations.

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