Lamb is a good name to have if you’re applying to run Fairtrade International in Bonn. Although with the best lamb sold in the UK imported from first world New Zealand, Fairtrade lamb is something of a contradiction. However, for Mary Meat from the Karoo, it’s another set of ethics altogether.
Some interesting claims from Harriet Lamb (below) who got the Bonn berth, in a recent interview in the Independent. “Many of the EU’s CAP tariffs also need to be reformed – like the trade rules preventing South African bottled wines – grown by some of the poorest workers in the world – access to Europe. It’s iniquitous.”
Could this be why SA bulk exports are flying while bottles stagnate in Stellenbosch (in spite of incorrect and uncorrected salary-serving press releases from WOSA about “positive trends”)? After all, how ethical is it to bottle SA Fairtrade wine in Europe at the cost of local jobs, even if the bottles are carbon friendly PETs?
Another interesting fact is that “products which bear the Fairtrade mark” are charged “a fee of 1 per cent of sales.” I was quoted 2% when researching a story for Good Taste magazine.
Do local Fairtraders pass on half of their take to Bonn? Anyway, the exotic economics of ethical trading aside, what is also iniquitous is that local producers are being bullied to sign up for WIETA as well as Fairtrade. Two competing ethical trading initiatives which require separate and expensive audits to qualify.
Where are the ethics in this, Su? Sounds like yet another scam, as is the transfer of R1.5 million by WOSA this year to WIETA, ensuring that Fairtrade producers pay twice. Whether they like it, or not. Almost time for a Carte Blanche exposé!
Neil, I enjoy your blog but I cannot let your extraordinary comment about New Zealand lamb pass. NZ lamb is a fine product enjoyed throughout the world, however it is not now, nor has it ever been “the best lamb sold in the UK”.
It is undeniably popular in the UK as it offers a option when home produced lamb is out of season, it is a lower cost alternative often sold frozen.
The best lamb sold in the UK comes from the western side of the country in particular from the Lake district and best of all from Wales. Welsh lamb is widely acknowledged as World class and rightly so.
Will you allow me “best imported lamb”? Alas, here in the former colonies, have only heard about salt marsh lamb on BBC Lifestyle and never tasted.
As far as I’m aware the Fairtrade Foundation charge wine producers 2% on sales and bury the producers under mountains of paperwork. A number are switching to the Swiss “Fairly Traded” mark charges less and is less beaurocratic.
Neil, how about best imported lamb if we discount imports from Ireland.
Salt marsh lamb, very good, upland lamb has it’s advocates as well, as always it’s all about the ‘terroir’ and you know where that leads us. Lamb en-primeur, first growth lamb etc. etc. Surely it’s long overdue, if you google protected food names you will find a list of some 38 food products thought worthy of this accolade, 14 cheeses and six (count em), six different kinds of lamb.
Food for thought???
there were talks within the Fairtrade system regarding the possibility of requiring bottling at source to foster local employment. However, this was dismissed with the fear that many Fairtrade wineries could lose contracts for bulk sales – which would have a bad effect on the communities that grow Fairtrade wine grapes (namely, less Fairtrade Development Premium).
With regards to license fees, in South Africa we charge 2% on sales and this money is used to promote Fairtrade products and to educate South Africans about fair trading and sustainability. European organisations have different fee structures that vary from country to country, but they all are roughly between 1 and 3,5%. However, yes, part of our license fee income goes to Bonn as membership fees and to support their work as international platform (and standard setting).
Lastly, we hope that WIETA’s work will manage to increase overall standards in the wine industry. This could be an advantage for Fairtrade in the long-run.
It can be argued that given that Fairtrade is the ‘gold’ standard of sustainability (few in the world can compete with our high and strict criteria, let alone our inherent developmental focus), an betterment of the wine industry’s standard could allow more wineries to take the next step to Fairtrade certification.
Arianna Baldo, Business Manager
Fairtrade Label South Africa
Much clever talking, too clevering for Mr Chow. Cut the business and look at picture of big banana holding ugly woman.
Iniquity aside, what possible sense does it make for a Fairtrade producer to sign up for WIETA as well?
I sincerely hope WIETA’s not making enemies since Fairtrade wines (as oppposed to other Fairtrade produce) generally, and unfortunately in my experience deservedly, don’t have a great reputation. There’s definitely a market for a WIETA-like approval that one’s favourite SA producer is making some effort on labour issues. The “but we have communal satellite tv facilites on the farm” argument might work its charms in SA, it doesn’t elsewhere.
Fairtrade (FT) and the likes should all be non-profit organisations funded by world money – if they have to exist at all.
FT, however well-intended, smacks of Mafia-like non-negotiables, modern (as in commercial leverage) new colonial or capitalist patronising and Church of Rome-like hypocrisy and paternalism through powe, money and holier-than-thou conniving of the first degree.
If you have to be ethically police a particular industry, let the free media do so.
If only FT could focus on the pre-production agri products. Why not look at the fertiliser, pesticide and herbicide industries, which control production to the tune of probably 60%. FT cannot and want not, because the “low life” primary producers are soft and convenient targets for ethical extortion.
FT and the likes are born from the all encompassing power of supermarket chains, which willy nilly are able to demand added costs from producers’ bottom line in the name of the father of maximumprofit (extended by butchering terms from which to suck producers even dryer to make money and interest on that same money…), the son of process and packaged greed and the holy ghost of so-called consumer protection.
In these days I do appreciate anarchists. This is just the medicine for FT. I am tired of being over-regulated and mothered by pale faces just so that a doos in a suit and tie somewhere in prizzy Europe can feel good about himself. Heck, if these do-gooders so much want to bath in glory, let them all adopt babies from Malawi.
Regulate this, arseholes.
PS. This does not mean that there is no need for Wieta in SA? It is just another debate.
I am quite amazed by your critique loaded with powerful judgements and strong connotations.
I would suggest you go visit a Fairtrade farm and ask the farmer and the farm workers whether they think Fairtrade has been ‘new colonial or capitalist patronising and Church of Rome-like hypocrisy’ for them.
I am sure you will get loads of unexpected responses!
In the meanwhile, we appreciate the debate and also to learn why people do not trust Fairtrade and the likes. This is actually important for us to improve our system and try change your mind in the future.
Fairtrade Label SA
Hi all. I am kind of tired of all the comments, debate, arguments, etc but guess it is unavoidable. I would invite all commentators to visit en experience ethical trade in action and sure my fellow licensees would welcome you as well. The two most important parties in the value chain are the producers and consumers. If they are happy why all the nonsense and non-income producing energy wasted on commentary. I and our producers and Jointbodies welcome you to come and visit and experience first-hand. It works for us and is baked into our value systems be it under FT, Fairly traded, Wieta, etc. Thanks
The issue is not with the welfare or not of workers and farmers already “ethically put in line”. It is bullshit that the consumer and producer should be happy. Consumers are being sold to, advertised to and solicited into believing ethical control is just and well, fair. Producers have no choice. What would you do as producer when your channel tells you to conform or never try and sell to us ever again. In principle FT is good and when put in practice it has no reason not to work equitably. But it is pushing towards where it is not a choice anymore.