13 Oct 2020

Traders honoured in Fairtrade Awards

In a series of articles leading up to the 2020 International Fairtrade Awards on October 29, we take a closer look at the finalists in the four categories: Small Producer Organization (SPO) of the Year; Hired Labour Organization (HLO) of the Year; Trader of the Year and Campaign of the Year. This week we feature the work of the three finalists in the Trader of the Year category.

Chocolate lovers across the world are familiar with the Divine Chocolate brand - but not many know the back-story in each bar. “The farmers are at the heart of everything Divine’s done. We use chocolate as something that everybody loves to champion a different way of doing business,” says Divine’s former CEO Sophi Tranchell. “We particularly want to champion women farmers - partly because women love chocolate, but also because we’ve found that women speaking to women really understand each other.”

Divine sources Fairtrade sugar and cocoa from co-ops across Africa. “All business has to make money to survive, but what I like about Divine is what the business essentially stands for. Divine really truly do what they stand for,” says Polly Woodruff, Product Development Manager.

“We all have the same hopes and aspirations,” says Sophi. “Cocoa farmers in Ghana want to look after their children, to educate them properly, to make sure they’ve got enough food on the table, that they’ll be able to have a decent living in the future in a thriving and nice community.”

Swedish fashion brand Nudie Jeans has been using Fairtrade Organic cotton in its clothing range since it was founded in 2001. “We work very hard to create a modern, sustainable business model,” says CEO and co-founder Joakim Levin. “That’s our purpose and I’m very proud of it. The cotton industry has many problems, and Fairtrade is an important piece of how we work with our supply chain. Fairtrade helps us reach the goal that we have set for the company of creating a sustainable supply chain.”

Much of the Fairtrade Organic cotton used by Nudie Jeans comes from the Yavatmal area of India. “If you’ve been to those small villages and seen what impact Fairtrade has made for the farmers and their families, and especially for the girls, then you’ll never want to buy any other cotton,” says Product Manager Jenny Henriksson. She points to the label on a shirt. “You can trace the cotton all the way back to the farmers - there is full traceability of the whole garment. You can see that it says that it is made from Fairtrade organic cotton, and it also says that it pays living wages.”

Taiwan has a thriving Fairtrade scene - much of it down to Okogreen, one of the finalists in the Trader of the Year category. “In the beginning we successfully aimed to harness people power to build up the value of transparency,” says Karen Yu, Okogreen’s co-founder. “Okogreen was the first Fairtrade company in Taiwan. We don’t just promote organic food and food justice, but we campaign for ethical consumerism. We promote a lot of Fairtrade campaigns to raise awareness among consumers.”

“Transparent operations are at the heart of Fairtrade standards,” says co-founder Hsu Wen-Yan. “That has inspired us to build up a transparent corporate culture. Fairness is an attitude which builds friendly and stable relationship between producers and consumers. It makes for a long term business.”

“I hope Okogreen can make a bigger impact with more partners around the world,” adds Karen. “We want to transform the whole world to be more sustainable, and we want to inspire more companies to become Fairtrade.”

We will announce the winners of the Fairtrade Awards on October 29. Stay tuned!