2008 sees the introduction of a Fair Trade stall to our parish, beginning in Fair Trade Fortnight on Sunday, February 24th.

Fair Trade means that the growers/producers in developing countries obtain a stable price sufficient to sustain and improve their farm or business and to give their families a better future for example by being able to afford to send their children to school.

Often this involves small family businesses banding together to form co-operatives to sell and export their goods. If these businesses employ others they must pay them a living wage and not exploit them.

The FairTrade mark is given after an internationally recognised inspection finds all the criteria met. The FT mark means a higher, more stable price for the farmer. This usually means we pay a higher price than for products sold by multinationals whose main aim is maximum profit. The result is several thousand more family businesses in developing countries each year enjoying a better future. But our purchases do far more than this.   

The increasing number of people prepared to pay a slightly higher price for fairly traded products has encouraged leading stores to promote fair trade. So M&S cafés exclusively serve fair trade teas and coffees; all the tea in Sainsbury’s is fair trade. It has also helped encourage our government take a lead in aid, cancelling debt and improving trade terms.

Our stall sells food items which many parishioners buy regularly such as coffee, honey, biscuits, tea, chocolate, fruit juice, cereal, sugar, jam and nuts, all with a good shelf life. You can order from a whole range of FT household and gift items in the catalogues we have out. Profit made from our stall will be added to our parish’s CAFOD donations.

The stall will be in the hall on the 4th Sunday morning each month and we’re looking at the feasibility of covering evening masses. All food items we sell are “underwritten” by someone in the parish: so if they near their “best before” date their underwriter will buy them.  This way everything is fresh and attractive.  The minimum order is six or ten. If you find food items in the catalogue we don’t sell, but you can underwrite, just say so.

We buy from Traidcraft. Its mission is to “fight poverty through trade, helping people in developing countries to transform their lives.” Traidcraft began in 1979 as a Christian response to poverty and describes itself as “the UK’s leading fair trade organisation”.

Contact Michael or Marian McGowan on 8888 1276 about the parish Fair Trade stall. Traidcraft and FairTrade have websites. The latter explains the FairTrade mark thus:

The FAIRTRADE Mark is an independent label which appears on products as an independent guarantee that disadvantaged producers in the developing world are getting a better deal.

For a product to display the FAIRTRADE Mark it must meet international “Fairtrade standards” set by the international certification body Fairtrade Labelling Organisations International (FLO).

Producer organisations that supply Fairtrade products are inspected and certified by FLO. They receive a minimum price that covers the cost of sustainable production and an extra premium that is invested in social or economic development projects.