Fairtrade Tea Industry Part 1 | What is Fairtrade?

Fairtrade Tea Industry Part 1 | What is Fairtrade?

For Fairtrade fortnight, we discuss all things Fairtrade in a two part series!

Part 1: What is Fairtrade and is it actually fair? and Part 2: What does Fairtrade mean for the tea industry?

What is Fairtrade?

Most of us prefer to purchase tea and other products that proudly display the Fairtrade logo over those that don’t. The little logo has a big impact on our shopping decisions, but why? It mostly boils down to confidence that Fairtrade have set a standard for all things good, ethical and fair in the tea industry so when we see the little logo in the supermarket aisle we feel reassured that we are doing the right thing so we buy the product. But why do we accept this as the standard? Is it because Fairtrade are the ethical ‘Ofsted’ of tea or are they just incredibly effective marketers? In reality, many people who buy Fairtrade don’t actually know what it does on the ground, or whether that is good in comparison to what already exists- or could exist- in the industry.

Is Fairtrade actually fair?

Fairtrade have a simple and honourable aim, to encourage companies to pay a fair price for products to ensure that producers and farmers have enough money to support themselves and also to invest in their children, companies and communities. The basic principle of Fairtrade is to set a fair base price for the famers for their products, a bit like the recommended living wage. Currently this is between 78p and £1.04 p/kg of tea, depending on country. Sounds fair, right?

So would it shock you to hear that we don't sell Fairtrade tea?!

It is important to note at this point that, because of the premium nature of teas we buy and use in our blends, we already pay over this price for our teas, as do many independent tea companies. However that is not really the point. Does anyone else not think that a system where paying 80p for 1kg of painstakingly farmed tea (often hand picked!), that will go on to be traded 8 odd times and making its final trader more than 5 x this amount isn’t ideal? It doesn't sound like very fair trading to us, which is why we are striving for better than Fairtrade!

Check out Part 2. - What does Fairtrade mean for the tea industry? - where we look in more detail at the problems facing both the tea industry and how Fairtrade does / doesn't address them, as well as why Bird & Blend choose not to sell Fairtrade tea.

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