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Fairtrade

...on serious topics that don't fit anywhere else at present.
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jaywhat
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Fairtrade

#1 Post by jaywhat » February 29th, 2008, 3:06 pm

I have found out that this is Fairtrade Fortnight so have written to various places about my concerns that Fair Trade (spelt as two words and therefore not the Fairtrade we all know and love) is sometimes used, in my opinion, in a rather underhand way.
An example of this would be Tyrell's Crisps which I have stopped buying because they say Fair Trade on them. Their reply to me recently was not at all serious. I am also disappointed with the Co-op for selling them - and their reply to me recently was that they cannot be responsible for what producers put on their packaging. They surely could refuse to sell them.

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Lifelinking
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Re: Fairtrade

#2 Post by Lifelinking » February 29th, 2008, 4:06 pm

I would have thought the Coop would have been more careful since they have been so involved in stocking genuine Fairtrade branded products. They were the first supermarket to stock an own brand Fairtrade labelled product (rather yummy chocolate as it happens). I will look out for the product you have mentioned. I wonder why they feel justified in branding themselves as 'Fair Trade'?
"Who thinks the law has anything to do with justice? It's what we have because we can't have justice."
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Alan C.
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Re: Fairtrade

#3 Post by Alan C. » February 29th, 2008, 5:12 pm

L
I wonder why they feel justified in branding themselves as 'Fair Trade'?
Maybe, (unlike the big supermarkets) they pay the farmers a "fair" price for their spuds, still a bit cheeky though.
I'll have look in our Co-op in the morning and see if they stock these crisps, if they do, I'll bring it up with the manager.
Our Co-op do a good job of promoting "fairtrade" just inside the door there is a display of all the fairtrade products they stock.
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

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Emma Woolgatherer
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Re: Fairtrade

#4 Post by Emma Woolgatherer » February 29th, 2008, 8:43 pm

Alan C. wrote:
Maybe, (unlike the big supermarkets) they pay the farmers a "fair" price for their spuds, still a bit cheeky though.
Nah, can't be that. Tyrrell's grows all its own potatoes on its own farm in Herefordshire. (See Tyrrells Potato Chips.)

Was it a particular flavour of crisp that had "fair trade" on the packet, jaywhat? Like ... avocado, banana and chocolate?

Emma

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Alan C.
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Re: Fairtrade

#5 Post by Alan C. » February 29th, 2008, 11:13 pm

Emma.
Was it a particular flavour of crisp that had "fair trade" on the packet, jaywhat? Like ... avocado, banana and chocolate?
WTF! We never buy crisps, but "avocado, banana and chocolate?" you're having a laugh..........surely?
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

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Emma Woolgatherer
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Re: Fairtrade

#6 Post by Emma Woolgatherer » March 1st, 2008, 12:13 am

Alan C. wrote:
WTF! We never buy crisps, but "avocado, banana and chocolate?" you're having a laugh..........surely?
Well, yeah, I was. I was trying to illustrate the difficulty of coming up with a crisp ingredient that might be genuinely fair trade (although black pepper has since occurred to me, and the spices in their Thai Curry flavour). But sorry, I forgot the winky thing. Or maybe it would have been an opportunity to use :sick:

Mind you, apparently Tyrrell's does claim to have produced strawberry, sweet chilli and white wine flavoured crisps for Valentine's Day (see http://www.tyrrellspotatochips.co.uk/fr ... times.html), which doesn't sound that much more appetising, does it? (I thought at first it might be a joke, but it can't be, because they mention that 10% of the sales of the crisps will be donated to the charity Breast Cancer Haven.)

I'm still puzzled about this, though. The Tyrrell's website mentions nothing about fair trade, and Googling has yielded nothing. I'd be very interested to find out more about the offending crisp packets, and to know exactly what the letter said that jaywhat received from Tyrrell's.

Emma

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jaywhat
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Re: Fairtrade

#7 Post by jaywhat » March 1st, 2008, 5:51 am

Just checked - it was all by email and it was last November. Here it is-
Thank you for your recent e mail regarding Tyrrells Crisp and the information provided on the packaging. I have spoken with our buying team who has advised that we are unable to dictate to the supplier what they print on their packaging and you will need to take the enquiry up with them.
I am sorry that I couldn't be of any further assistance.
Kind Regards
Laura Brookes
Customer Relations Officer
Laura.Brooks@co-operative.coop

Thank you for your interest in Tyrrells, and taking the time to contact us. I can confirm that as a family farm based in the heart of Herefordshire, we recognise at first hand how important it is that farmers are treated fairly in the trading process and so decided to add this to our packaging.
If you would like any additional information, please do contact us.
Kind regards
Julie Lewis
julie.lewis@tyrrellspotatochips.co.uk

As I said originally, one has to differentiate between 'Fairtrade' and 'Fair Trade'. My point is that using the latter is purposely deceptive

My final email to Co-op was:-
Thank you for your reply. I understand that the Co-op cannot dictate what wording companies put on their packaging but surely if there were a situation where the Co-op did not agree with something said about a product, they could simply decide not to sell that particular brand.
The Co-op says it is committed to selling Fairtrade products where it can. It seems to me, if a company is hinting that their product is such by using the words Fair and trade, the Co-op might have something to say about that.

Sincerely
John Bosley

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Emma Woolgatherer
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Re: Fairtrade

#8 Post by Emma Woolgatherer » March 1st, 2008, 5:03 pm

jaywhat wrote:
Just checked - it was all by email and it was last November.
Hmmm. Have you looked at any Tyrrells crisp packets lately? I've just pored over several packets in Sainsbury's and I could not find a mention of "Fair Trade" anywhere. Is it possible that your complaint (along with any other complaints they may have received) actually had an impact in the last couple of months?
"I can confirm that as a family farm based in the heart of Herefordshire, we recognise at first hand how important it is that farmers are treated fairly in the trading process and so decided to add this to our packaging." (Julie Lewis)
What, exactly, was "this"? If the words "Fair Trade" were printed separately on the packet, and not as part of a sentence such as "We think that fair trade is a jolly good idea", then there's a clear implication that the crisp themselves were made with fair-trade ingredients. That's obviously not the case as far as the potatoes are concerned. If they use fair-trade spices (and they should, if they really do support fair trade) then they should make that clear. Either way, the response they gave you is outrageous.
As I said originally, one has to differentiate between 'Fairtrade' and 'Fair Trade'. My point is that using the latter is purposely deceptive.
I don't see it quite like that. The Fairtrade Foundation is a particular labelling organisation. There are others that write the words "Fair Trade" as two words, e.g. the (North American) Fair Trade Federation. The words "fair trade" have a specific, widely agreed meaning, even when used generically, e.g.: "Fair trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, which seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers - especially in the South. Fair trade organizations (backed by consumers) are engaged actively in supporting producers, awareness raising and in campaigning for changes in the rules and practice of conventional international trade" (a definition produced by FINE, an informal association of four fair trade labelling organisations, including the Fairtrade Foundation, in 2001). It seems to me that Tyrrells Crisps were being wildly inaccurate, and not just sneaky, if they were describing their products as fair trade. Possibly even contravening the Trade Descriptions Act.

I would not, however, object to companies using the words "fair trade" to describe a product, or ingredients, that are genuinely fairly traded (paying producers a fair price, and adhering to all the other principles and practices advocated by fair trade supporters), even if they are not certified to carry the Fairtrade mark, or the mark of any other fair trade labelling organisation, providing they back up their claim in some way.

Emma

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jaywhat
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Re: Fairtrade

#9 Post by jaywhat » March 1st, 2008, 5:16 pm

Emma,
Don't agree with you on everything but I accept that it may all be different in the States.

By the way here is my letter in today's Huddersfield Examiner - already posted in the veggie group re peanuts:-
>>I see it is Fairtrade Fortnight (yesterday's letter from LINDA MCAVAN) and so it seems a good time to point out to readers that we have to make sure, if we want to support Fairtrade, that we look carefully at the wording. It needs to be all one word - Fairtrade - and not Fair Trade, as found on Tyrrells crisps, for example.<<

Yes. It is still on the Tyrells crisps in our Co-op, not at the top but in the darker stripe at the bottom. I have emailed them today and said that I have stopped buying Tyrells products, because I think to use the words Fair Trade is dishonest when it applies to any sort of producer in the 'West'. It is usually used for producers in the Third World who are always getting ripped off by supermarkets and others - eg banana growers, coffee and tea producers and so on.
I have also told them about my letter in the paper and about the discussion on this forum so they might just have the guts to speak up here. I've told the Co-op as well.

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Emma Woolgatherer
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Re: Fairtrade

#10 Post by Emma Woolgatherer » March 1st, 2008, 5:46 pm

jaywhat wrote:
It needs to be all one word - Fairtrade - and not Fair Trade ...
Of course, to be picky, the word Fairtrade on its own is no better than Fair Trade on its own. The thing that indicates Fairtrade certification is the presence of the Fairtrade certification mark , although another official mark might also be considered trustworthy.
Yes. It is still on the Tyrells crisps in our Co-op, not at the top but in the darker stripe at the bottom.
How strange. Although maybe your Co-op has a slower turnover of stock than my Sainbury's.

And sorry to keep asking questions, but could you just clarify what, exactly, "it" is? The words "Fair Trade", on their own? Or is there any other wording?

Emma

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jaywhat
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Re: Fairtrade

#11 Post by jaywhat » March 2nd, 2008, 3:19 pm

As soon as I can I shall get up to the Co-op and report back.

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Fran
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Re: Fairtrade

#12 Post by Fran » March 3rd, 2008, 6:33 pm

[
An example of this would be Tyrell's Crisps which I have stopped buying because they say Fair Trade on them.
I think you're getting your knickers in rather an unnecessary twist here; have just rescued a Tyrrell's packet from the bin & compared it with a Fair Trade coffee pack, which says Fair Trade and FAIRTRADE all over it. The Tyrrell's pack has a very small slogan at the bottom, back of the pack; 'Fair trade for our family farms'; quite different, and they are very nice crisps, especially the Lightly Salted...

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Emma Woolgatherer
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Re: Fairtrade

#13 Post by Emma Woolgatherer » March 3rd, 2008, 7:08 pm

Fran wrote:The Tyrrell's pack has a very small slogan at the bottom, back of the pack; 'Fair trade for our family farms'; quite different, and they are very nice crisps, especially the Lightly Salted...
Hmmm. I still think they're wrong to use the words "fair trade" on their crisp packets, because they do have a widely understood meaning in the context of trade with the developing world. But I would agree that "Fair trade for our family farms" is clearly a slogan, rather than a description of the product. And I also suspect that, on balance, Tyrrells is a more ethical company than Walkers (owned by PepsiCo) or McCoy's (United Biscuits). I used to think Kettle Chips was a relatively ethical snack-food company (well ... they've installed solar panels in their factory in Oregon), but apparently there's a boycott on Kettle Chips at the moment, following allegations that the company tried to discourage workers at its Norwich factory from joining the trade union Unite (see, for example, this Guardian article).

Of course, it's all irrelevant, really, because crisps are evil addictive pseudo-foods designed to make me fat. (Searches in vain for corpulent smilie.)

Emma

tubataxidriver
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Re: Fairtrade

#14 Post by tubataxidriver » March 3rd, 2008, 11:42 pm

I run a UK Govt accredited certification body in another sector and I also sit on the board of the UK association of certification bodies, in which we have food sector members. The "Fairtrade" certification scheme is a proprietary brand that is issued on a fee-paid basis and is carefully controlled through trade mark registration. Food processors must pay to be regularly assessed to see if they can use the certification mark, and this often involves changing business practices, so processors sometimes can't afford it, or their business model and supplier relationships don't fit what is expected by the certification body.

The details of the certification requirements, including the frequency of checking and the level of scrutiny applied by a certification body can vary. There is competition between certification bodies, which sometimes results in standards falling. Many certification bodies (like my own) are not-for-profit, but many are profit-driven companies in their own right. So don't assume that because the message sounds good that all is rosy. Ask food processors why they have gone with a particular body - the deal may be good and no questions asked.

It might be possible for food processors to self-declare that they are "fair trade", but in my view this does not have any value - who is checking the validity of the claims? Unfortunately the public don't understand this and take marketing claims at face value. Their claims would have the same value as other silly marketing claims unless properly assessed. Unfortunately people can use any English words as long as they don't misuse a trade mark.

The key thing for the public is to check that the food processor is being independently assessed by someone outside the organisation. The best way to do this is to look for a recognised certification mark like the "Fairtrade" one. But this does not mean that "Fairtrade" should have a monopoly on this business. There may be better schemes in place for certain product types.

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Re: Fairtrade

#15 Post by Nick » March 4th, 2008, 8:47 am

The whole concept of "Fairtrade" is fraught with conundrums. I'll give a few examples, to illustrate the point. Of course, each point could justify a doctoral thesis, so I can't claim its infallibility, but I hope it provokes a few thoughts.

There is an automatic assumption that Fairtrade is required because of monopsonistic buyers, whereas in fact the low price is caused by oversupply. To encourage greater supply by giving a selection of producers more money makes the problem worse not better.

In order to qualify for "Fairtrade" farmers are obliged to join co-operatives. All very politically correct, but such socialist organisation has had an appalling historical record, thwarting economic development by protecting the inefficient and penalising the industrious.

"Fairtrade" principally benefits people other than those intended. The extra cost of, say, Fairtrade coffee, is tiny. The cost of the coffee beans in a cup of coffee is tiny as a proportion of the overall cost. If I were a coffee shop I would certainly offer "Fairtrade coffee" as an option. At a premium price. An extra 10p perhaps? The buyer gets a cup of coffee and a warm feeling (I don't mean that he's spilt his coffee down his front :grin: ) the grower may get an extra penny perhaps, the other 9 pence disappearing in waste and profits for others, including the coffee-shop. It would be much better to give the whole 10p to pay towards the education of the growers children, or improving the infrastructure of the coffee producing country, to reduce the expense of getting the coffee to market.

I have quite deliberately put a provocative one-sided argument. I am not necessarily against "Fairtrade" in spite of what I have written, and do tend to buy "Fairtrade" coffee, tea and chocolate, but I think it is very important that people have a better awareness of some of the issues involved.

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Emma Woolgatherer
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Re: Fairtrade

#16 Post by Emma Woolgatherer » March 4th, 2008, 8:53 am

tubataxidriver wrote:Unfortunately people can use any English words as long as they don't misuse a trade mark.
But surely it's an offence under the Trade Descriptions Act to make false or misleading statements about a product. And that includes "the use of any conformity mark, or of any imitation thereof likely to deceive, or of any other indication or statement likely to be construed as, indicating that the goods or services conform to standards issued by any body or authority". While that probably couldn't be said to be the case with Tyrrells crisps, because they use the words "fair trade" in a slogan rather than a claim, surely it would have been the case if they had plastered FAIR TRADE in large letters on the front of their crisp packets, even without any certification mark? And if not, why not? Is this just something that hasn't been tested yet?

Emma

Ted Harvey
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Re: Fairtrade

#17 Post by Ted Harvey » March 4th, 2008, 9:14 am

Can I just say, keep the debate on this thread up! As someone involved in social enterprise and the not-for-profit sector I’m finding what you are all posting to be really relevant, useful and helpful with thinking this all through :thumbsup:

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Fran
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Re: Fairtrade

#18 Post by Fran » March 4th, 2008, 1:55 pm

The Co-op is the only supermarket Tyrrell's will deal with, their other outlets being small village shops, such as the one where I get my weekend treat packet. They also form part of my personal wine-and-crisps assisted plan to enjoy life while not littering up the world with another centenarian, which I hope you'll agree is wholly admirable :nod:

Ted Harvey
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Re: Fairtrade

#19 Post by Ted Harvey » March 4th, 2008, 3:27 pm

I've just learned that the March 2008 edition of Which magazine is covering 'Is Fairtrade Fairtrade?'!

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Emma Woolgatherer
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Re: Fairtrade

#20 Post by Emma Woolgatherer » March 4th, 2008, 3:55 pm

Fran wrote:The Co-op is the only supermarket Tyrrell's will deal with, their other outlets being small village shops ...
And Waitrose. But that doesn't mean that other supermarkets don't sell them. I know they managed to get Tesco to agree to stop selling their crisps, after lengthy discussions, but "Tesco does not need Tyrrell's permission to stock its crisps" (BBC News, 18 September 2006). My local Sainsbury's definitely stocks them. Presumably without Tyrrells' permission. I've also seen them in quaint little motorway service stations.

It does seem, though, that the slogan "Fair trade for our family farms" is aimed at the big supermarkets, which are seen as being unfair in their dealings with producers. Will Chase, the founder of Tyrrells Crisps, has said he was "forced to abandon his potato business six years ago because large supermarkets, led by Tesco, began sourcing produce from overseas to push down costs" (Guardian, 18 September 2006). It's an important issue, but I don't think it's helpful to confuse it with the issue of fair trade, which seems to be what Tyrrells is doing with that slogan, even if it's not a cynical ploy to win sales.
Fran wrote:... shops, such as the one where I get my weekend treat packet. They also form part of my personal wine-and-crisps assisted plan to enjoy life while not littering up the world with another centenarian, which I hope you'll agree is wholly admirable
Admirable in intent. But I'm not sure you'll succeed, if you're managing to stop at just one packet a week. I couldn't manage that. :popcorn: I had to go cold turkey. (And no, I'm not talking about a flavour.)

Emma

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