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We’ve been supporting Fairtrade Fortnight at M&S now since its inception. To me this year’s campaign takes a more serious tact than previous campaigns. As well as encouraging us to buy more Fairtrade products, Fairtrade is asking us to think about the farmers who are growing the food we eat.

“When trade is fair it has the potential to improve the lives of the farmers and workers who grow our food. When trade is fair, it can make the world a better place. Together we have that power, so get involved and be part of the difference.” 

We’ve been supporting Fairtrade now since 2006 when we were the first retailer to convert all of our tea and coffee to Fairtrade.  We also sell a range of chocolate, bananas, wines and flowers.  Over the years I have been lucky enough to meet with 100s of Fairtrade growers around the world, from Chile to South Africa, from Kenya to Ethiopia. Here are my reflections on the difference Fairtrade can make:

  • Stable price – We often take for granted how revolutionary Fairtrade was in introducing a minimum price for producers. With volatile world commodity markets, giving growers a guaranteed understanding of what they could earn for their money helps the most vulnerable farmers plan and manage their income;

  • Support for the local community – I have seen some fabulous examples of the Fairtrade premium making a difference, from supporting education to health care, and when managed well the premium enables farmers to invest in their local community;

  • Supporting governance – The complexity in supporting small holder governance processes cannot be underestimated, bringing together cooperatives and helping them on their business process – you can read more here https://corporate.marksandspencer.com/blog/relationships-matter-fairtrade-coffee-in-ethiopia;  

  • Connecting producers to the consumer – I believe that Fairtrade has done more than any other certification to connect the full supply chain, helping our customers understand where the food comes from as well as empowering growers to understand the international supply chain that they are such an important part of.

We’ve worked with many of the growers for longer than they’ve been Fairtrade, in fact we worked with many of them to convert them to Fairtrade and these growers are really important to us. Our support of our Fairtrade suppliers doesn’t stop at buying Fairtrade, we’ve supported growers with empowerment programmes such as Emerging Leaders and also our women’s economic empowerment project in Peru.

This year we continue our support of Fairtrade with lots of delicious products in store. To find out more about the campaign: https://www.fairtrade.org.uk/Get-Involved/Current-campaigns/Fairtrade-Fortnight