Guardian: Why are foodies turning their backs on Fairtrade?
“When you get to the bottom of it, [the Fairtrade scheme] is kind of neo-imperialistic,” he says. “It’s something we impose on them.” He’s thinking particularly of the pressure for producers to form groups, usually co-operatives, in order to join. “Can you imagine what British farmers would say if their American customers came to them and said: well, I’m only going to trade with you guys if you get together and I can buy from all of you at the same time?”
After looking into the costs and overhead headaches of meeting and maintaining certification requirements for organic and Fair-trade certificates, it occurred to me that Raintree Farms would be better off investing that money paying our workers well.
It strikes me as odd that there is a development centric scheme that puts the onus on suppliers rather than buyers. If buyers simply focused on paying good money for good quality supplies from the global South, we wouldn’t need Fairtrade certification schemes.
One thing I’ve learned over the last few years at Raintree is that how you treat your farmers and suppliers eventually reflects in the quality of product you are able to export. If you don’t pay farmers well, they have no incentive to produce high quality product. We learned that by increasing the prices we pay for our raw materials and insisting on high quality, farmers put in the effort because they knew they’d be fairly rewarded for it.
You don’t get far demanding high quality but paying low wages. Focus on treating your suppliers fairly and they will in turn take care of your quality bottom line. Buyers aren’t stupid, they’ll pay good money for first rate quality.