What is a Fairtrade product?

23 Mar 2020

Chocolate Knowledge

As May 9 is World Fairtrade Day, we take a look at what Fairtrade actually means; for farmers, companies and consumers.

It’s been over 25 years since the Fairtrade Foundation was established, and now the fairtrade symbol is found in supermarkets all over the country. World Fairtrade Day 2020 celebrates fair trade and encourages people to choose these products where possible by raising awareness around it. But what does fair trade actually mean?

What is Fair Trade?

The basic idea of fair trade is to make sure that people are offered a fair price for their labour and the products they produce, especially in the developed world where unscrupulous buyers can take advantage of poor farmers and offer them little remuneration for their work.

Along with setting a minimum price for their products so they don’t end up selling their products for less than they’re worth, Fairtrade ensures decent working conditions and fair terms of trade for workers and farmers. Essentially, it offers a better deal for farmers in a world where companies have the possibility to discriminate and exploit the poorest workers.

The Fairtrade Foundation also works to connect these disadvantaged farmers and workers with consumers, so rather than buying chocolate or coffee with no idea where it came from, you are given information about the farm, and the person who grew and picked your beans. This establishes a link between consumer and producer, making people more aware of the process behind it.

As the companies are required to pay sustainable prices that never dip below the market price, farmers can not only cover their costs but also leave them with a profit to be able to improve their land and protect them from volatile commodity markets.

What is Fairtrade Premium?

Fairtrade Premium takes money that has been generated from product sales and gives it back to collectives of workers and farmers, who can then use it to improve their social, economic and environmental conditions. For example, cocoa farmers get an extra £170 per tonne of cocoa beans they sell, and this scheme gave over £170 million back to farmer communities in 2017.

This creates a sustainable working and living environment. According to the Fairtrade Foundation’s most recent report, most of the money from Fairtrade Premium goes into education, housing and agricultural tools.

How can I make sure the products I buy are Fairtrade?

This is simple! Just look for products with the fairtrade symbol on them. Fairtrade items range from fruit and vegetables to coffee, chocolate and tea, so just glance at the label to find out.

Are Hotel Chocolat products Fairtrade?

As a company, our guiding principles are Original, Authentic, Ethical, so you can browse our chocolate selection, safe in the knowledge that we ensure our chocolate is grown both ethically and sustainably. Despite these principles, our Rabot Estate in St Lucia – where we directly grow some of our cocoa – is unfortunately not eligible for fairtrade certification because it is owned by us – a company – rather than being a smallholding.

However, this doesn’t mean we don’t believe in fairtrade principles. On the Rabot Estate, we created a Cocoa Programme for farmers and workers who grow cacao – our Island Grower partners – giving them advice and technical assistance. We supply them with our high quality Trinitario seedlings and guarantee that we will buy their crops for more than the standard price of the world market.

At Hotel Chocolat, our love of chocolate has led us to try cocoa from all over the world to explore how different origins and qualities of chocolate provide nuances in taste. Although we can’t claim to be fully fairtrade, we can promise to create premium chocolate that meets our rigorous quality and taste standards, whilst also adhering to our ethical business principles.