04.Power to the consumer
How else can I help?
From dressing your toddler in Fairtrade cottonwear to catching up with friends over cappuccino in a Fairtrade café, there are many things you can do to support the growing desire to give disadvantaged producers a fair go.
One of the ideas suggested by the Fair Trade Association of Australia and New Zealand (FTAANZ) is to organise Fair Trade Communities at work, in schools or in churches. Participants work with FTAANZ to meet a set of corporate and social goals and to raise awareness of fair trade in the particular community. An example would be introducing Fairtrade coffee in your workplace or holding a Fairtrade fete at a church fundraising.
You can also lend your support by participating in awareness campaigns during Fairtrade fortnight each year in May.
The good news is that many Australians have shown support for Fairtrade since FTAANZ was established in 2003. The sales for Fairtrade-labelled products skyrocketed to $6.8 million in 2006, with the total tipped to reach over 10 million by the end of this calendar year. The number of licensees also grew from six to 70 over the period of three years.
Coffee is the major driver behind the growth, accounting for 75% of the sales, followed by chocolate, tea and sports balls.
In April 2007, two Melbourne academics accused Oxfam Australia of misleading the public by claiming Fairtrade coffee helped alleviate poverty for farmers in the developing world.
The pair lodged a formal complaint to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), referring to alleged reports that Peruvian coffee workers were paid less than the minimum wage required under Fairtrade requirements, and thus didn’t qualify to be labelled as Fairtrade. The ACCC dismissed the claim, concluding the allegation relied on evidence which “may be subject to different interpretations”.
In response to media coverage at the time, the Chairperson of Fairtrade Labelling Australia and New Zealand, Diana Gibson, said in a public statement that while breaches of standards are minimal, they’re more likely to occur where farmers can only sell part of their crops through the Fairtrade system (often only between 10 and 15%) and are left to rely on the free market to sell the rest.
FTAANZ executive officer Neil Bowker told CHOICE that the situation has been investigated and rectified since the incident.