Purchasing fair trade

Purchasing fair trade

We’re coming to the end of Fairtrade® fortnight – an annual campaign to recognise the strands that ethical trading (fair trade) pulls together. This includes the products, geopolitics and people that fall under a shared commitment to a genuine improvement in living standards.

Allergy concern recently (and rightly) gained the attention it deserves, however this time of year is an annual opportunity to wind the clock back to a time when restaurant goers, coffee shop owners and procurement managers began questioning the true sustainability of their ingredients.

With live data at the core of Caternet, we reached out to Google Trends’ own live data to source additional statistics for our menu and ingredient predictions for 2019 post (published in November). Anecdotal evidence from our partners is already proving much of that correct, so we returned with a new query to see how fair trade has fared in the battle for recognition.

Interest over time
United Kingdom. 1/1/04 – 3/7/19. Web Search. Google Trends

Why are fair trade searches down?

Over the past three decades, attention has been diverted to individual ingredients. Examples include campaigns launched against the use of palm oil, tiger prawns, and most recently, bottled water. Fewer people are interested in eating chocolate, the most associated category. Other fair trade products, such as bananas, flowers and cotton don’t enjoy the same marketing.

Cadbury confused the market with their 2016 ‘Cocoa Life’ announcement. In launching their own (admittedly expanded) programme of ethics – which includes new initiatives such as climate change efforts – the Fairtrade® logo was lost from the packaging. For a certification that has been around since the early 1990s this was a surprising direction. At the same time, Nestlé only guarantees the cocoa, sugar and vanilla in their European-marketed KitKat product to be fair trade. Nestlé has a well-publicised problem with child labour in their supply chain. You can read their statements about the efforts to remove these workers here.

It’s also important to provide balance in this ethical argument. Fair trade (the set of ethical trading principles, not the Charity) has its own critics. They question everything from the realistic, ground-level policing of production to how much money is returned to the farmers’ pockets; and even inefficiencies in marketing spend.

Whilst fair trade may not gain the attention it enjoyed in the 1990s and early 2000s, data shows it is here to stay. “Over 90% of British people recognise the Fairtrade® Mark” according to the Fairtrade® charity, and they continue to work with “1.6 million farmers and workers across 74 developing countries”. There are new products added to the roster frequently – including cosmetics, sports equipment and even gold.

Procurement software is here to lock in your sourcing data.

When you use EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) you enjoy a new way to work with suppliers and wholesalers – without picking up the phone again. Working in the same way you’d source organic and gluten-free ingredients, fair trade information is automatically passed through the system and displayed within the Global Product Name field. There is no need for a head office or site to spend time researching.

Do you have your own fair trade suppliers? Caternet allows suppliers to trade for free so you can bring them with you, or find new ones.

How do commercial kitchens control prices?

Fair trade products naturally lend themselves to higher prices. A simple search with one supplier through Caternet shows certified bananas at £1.89/kg vs regular bananas at £1.69/kg. For a retailer selling smoothies, or a hotel serving hundreds of daily breakfasts, these costs add up. With purchase-to-pay software, budgets can be set centrally, and mistakes eliminated with authorised buying lists. Daily price alerts are the first step to prevent overspending.

For more information about how caterers save time and money, read what we do.

James Waldron is Content Manager at Zupa

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