Happy Birthday Fairtrade International
This week Fairtrade International is celebrating its 15th birthday! Some of our members (namely Fairtrade Germany, Max Havelaar Switzerland and Fairtrade Luxembourg) are even turning 20 this year – a great opportunity to celebrate all that we have achieved, and to look to the future.
Back in April 1997, Fairtrade was still in baby shoes. Fairtrade products were already on sale in 16 countries but under seven different labels and varying regulations. Just 619 metric tonnes of Fairtrade cocoa were sold globally (compare that to 35 000 MT in 2010), and products like cotton, flowers and gold were just a pipedream. One thing was clear: Fairtrade needed global coordination if it was to make a truly global difference to farmers and workers worldwide.
And so, Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International e.V. (now simply Fairtrade International) was born. Our goal was to set common Fairtrade Standards, to provide more co-ordinated support to producers and to harmonize the Fairtrade system.
Fifteen years on, and the difference is remarkable – both in Fairtrade International, and across the wider system.
Over 27 000 Fairtrade products are sold globally in more than 100 countries, with retail sales of 4.4 billion euros in 2010. More increases are expected in the figures for 2011.
More importantly, 1.2 million producers worldwide benefit – from better prices, from Premium money totalling 51.5 million euros annually to invest in their businesses and communities, and from training and support to plan their own development and determine their future. Producers are at the heart of everything we do and that is reflected in our governance – where producers are co-owners of Fairtrade. Our Standards are known widely for their rigour and credibility. And the international FAIRTRADE Mark is the most widely recognized ethical label in the world. People know they can trust Fairtrade to deliver.
But we know there is still much to do. Millions of people still live below the poverty line. Producers are confronted with extreme weather patterns and climate change. Fairtrade farmers need to sell more of their goods on Fairtrade terms so they can make all their dreams for their businesses and communities a reality. The challenges are huge, but the opportunity even bigger.
There’s plenty more we want to achieve, and we owe it to our Fairtrade farmers and workers to make it possible. Watch this space for announcements this year on our exciting plans for Fairtrade!