By Jo Whitfield, Chief Executive, Food
Back in October 2019, I had the incredible pleasure of travelling over 6,000 miles to join some of our wonderful Fairtrade flower and tea producers in Kenya. I spent four days immersed in Fairtrade communities, gaining insight into the lives of our producers and having conversations about Fairtrade. I learnt so much, and I’d love to share my thoughts with you in the video below:
In October, we celebrated an amazing 25 years of supporting Fairtrade. Co-op’s 99 Tea was the UK’s very first Fairtrade retailer own brand tea, and now we’re the largest convenience retailer of Fairtrade products. The past 25 years has been a pioneering collaboration with Fairtrade which we’re excited to continue to support and grow into the future.
Next week marks the beginning of Fairtrade Fortnight 2020; an annual moment where we come together to share stories of people behind the products we love, people who – without Fairtrade – are often exploited and underpaid. Fairtrade changes lives; we’re celebrating with them by giving our Fairtrade producers a voice, so that they can tell our colleagues, customers and members what Fairtrade means to them and the impact they make by choosing our amazing Fairtrade products.
Why Fairtrade is important
Life for workers in Kenya is a stark contrast to what we are used to. A usual working week can be up to 6 days, and some people work up to 54 hours a week.
It can be incredibly hard for people to earn enough money to make a real living. People are often exploited, underpaid and treated unfairly because companies want to keep bigger margins and profits.
That’s why Fairtrade is so important. Fairtrade ensures workers get independently set prices for their products, therefore they’re protected if the market prices ever drops. This means they always get a fair price for their goods. This is because those of us who shop consciously and buy Fairtrade products can give producers a real sense of dignity in the work they do.
We’re proud to have been at the forefront of the Fairtrade movement since it launched in 1994, we’re committed to continue co-operating for a fairer world through Fairtrade in 2020 and beyond.
Our message is simple: by simply choosing Fairtrade you’re supporting real people. You’re helping producers get paid fairly. You’re giving producers control over their future, and you’re doing the right thing for people and the planet. Simply put, you’re helping change lives.
Co-op was founded to do business differently. Co-operation is the behaviour we all need to demonstrate to help shape the communities and world we want to live in the future. I would love to see every single colleague continue to champion and celebrate Fairtrade as one of the key differences of our Co-op and how it’s the gold standard of any other certification.
We’ll be shining a light on some inspirational people over Fairtrade Fortnight, and I’d love to hear more from everyone about why Fairtrade is important to you. Please let me know in the comments below and on Yammer. Don’t forget to help me celebrate Fairtrade Fortnight with your friends, colleagues and members via Social Hub.
Did you know:
- We’re the UK’s largest convenience seller of Fairtrade products
- We put the UK’s first Fairtrade bananas on our shelves in 2000, and we were the first UK retailer to sell Fairtrade bananas in all our stores by 2012
- We were the first retailer to make all our coffee Fairtrade in 2003
- We were the first retailer to make all our Co-op Easter eggs Fairtrade in 2016