Fair Trade Cynic

Aug 17, 2012



The Cynic in Me

I just can’t help it I have always been a Fair Trade cynic, ever since I had the dubious pleasure of a meeting with the Bureaucrats at FLO in their then Bonn based HQ

At that time – which was during the early and dramatic growth phase of FT and FLO, I was puzzled as to how, 50 or so auditors, could possibly ensure the global welfare and financial equity of all those subsistence farmers involved in the coffee and cocoa and banana trade

It was also beyond my comprehension as to how a probably illiterate farmer could be expected to complete the necessary paper work  to join…..Or to secure the thousand € loan to pay the administration and membership fee…!

So despite the credit crunch, I was surprised to see new figures from FT International in Germany, advising that global spending on FT certified wares rose 12%  last year to 5B € or $6.5 B!

Sales in the core countries of Germany / UK and Netherlands remained firm … and in newer consumer markets, such as South Africa and South Korea surged forwards!

Key growth drivers were instant coffee +12% to 98k MT pa  and Cocoa  up 14% to 40 k MT and Sugar up 9% to 138.5 k Mt

Tea also grew 9%, Flowers 11% and Bananas 9%

Here in the UK FT is a very big business – valued at approaching £1b TSV, with catering still the ‘country cousin’ at c £200 M

Within the retail coffee trade, there have been some big shifts in share ownership of this growing market….Percol are certainly the young upstarts with growth consistently @ +10% …whilst Cafe Direct ( still reeling from a disastrous re-brand) are hugely down 20 > 40% depending upon who you believe, with Clipper remaining pretty much +/- ‘stagnant’ in more ways than one!

Despite my personal gripe with FT and FLO they remain the most well known ‘off the shelf branded accreditation’, with a recent survey showing 58% of consumers likely to purchase a FLO stamped item, versus 9% for RFA and 4% for the Soil Association

This leaves me with the 29% who said they were most likely to purchase a product with no stamp or consumerist salve!

Monkey stop mucking about and make sure there is a pulse here….Or am I just a hackneyed old espresso swilling cynic?!


Guru ( Andy Grelak) writes for Aromo Coffee – They are coffee experts focussed on providing convenient and tasty ways for the caffeine addict to take their medicine. Aromo supplies excellent ESE Coffee pods and superlative Senseo pods,  both of which offer the espresso and filter connoisseur  a no mess, no fuss,  super fresh and environmentally conscious method to make stunning coffee… the guys at Aromo also have a range of Dualit branded capsules which make a brilliant and economic alternative to nespresso capsules