The sale of fair trade products is blooming in South Africa and Fairtrade Label South Africa (FLSA), the organization that administers the well-known Fairtrade certification system around the world, has just announced the country’s first ever Fairtrade Week (November 14 to 20, 2011).
FLSA’s Executive Director, Boudewijn Goossens, says that he is “confident in the ethical consciousness of South African consumers” and has “no doubt that they will be excited in tasting the positive changes brought about by Fairtrade in our country simply by choosing Fairtrade certified products in their everyday shopping.”
According to his organization, Fairtrade improves the lives of farmers and their families by alleviating poverty and poor working conditions while at the same time providing consumers with an ethical choice. For every Fairtrade certified product sold, a portion of the profit, called the Fairtrade Premium, is paid to the farming community that produced the item. The community itself then democratically decides how to use the premium for improvement projects that benefit it as a whole. Fairtrade certified farms are also required to implement sustainable and eco-friendly practices.
South Africa is the first emerging market in the global South to introduce and promote local fair trading, by not only exporting Fairtrade certified goods like wine and rooibos tea, but also offering Fairtrade products such as chocolate and coffee to local consumers.
South Africa currently has more than 60 Fairtrade certified producer organizations and sales tripled from R5.7 million (about $700,000) in 2009 to R18.4 million ($2.3 million) in 2010.
The local wine industry represents a particularly spectacular Fairtrade success. South Africa is home to the world’s first Fairtrade wine producer, Thandi Wines, which was awarded its official certification in 2003. Today, there are 17 certified wine grape producing organizations and more than 25 companies involved in Fairtrade wine making and trading in the country. In 2010, two thirds of the 17 million bottles of Fairtrade certified wine sold worldwide came from South African farms.
Now there’s a trend I’d love to see continue!
Andreas is a book shop manager and freelance writer in Cape Town, South Africa. Follow him on Twitter: @Andreas_Spath
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