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Social History Society, Glasgow (March 2010)


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This paper situates debates about the legitimacy of Fairtrade certification within a wider academic literature that considers consumer-producer dynamics in relation to a political economy framework. Drawing on archive research conducted as part of a recently completed PhD, this paper re-examines how Fair Trade has evolved and what impact this has had on the consumer-producer dynamics within the Fairtrade model.

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Social History Society, Glasgow (March 2010)

  1. 1. The Social History Society Annual Conference University of Glasgow (March 2010) Matthew Anderson Fairtrade: Partners in Development? A reassessment of consumer-producer dynamics within the Fairtrade model
  2. 2. Outline <ul><li>Producer-led or consumer-led? </li></ul><ul><li>A consumer-dependent movement for change </li></ul><ul><li>Challenging labelling companies </li></ul><ul><li>What is ‘authentic’ Fair Trade? </li></ul><ul><li>Oxfam: Helping by Selling </li></ul><ul><li>Fairtrade Foundation: a fairer deal? </li></ul><ul><li>Nestlé: Partners’ Blend </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusions </li></ul>
  3. 3. ‘ Supermarkets have contributed to the rapid growth of Fair Trade in the United Kingdom, and in some cases are playing an important role in supporting producers in developing countries, but they are also driving a shift from producer- to consumer-led Fair Trade.’ Producer-led or consumer-led? S. Barrientos & S. Smith, ‘Mainstreaming Fair Trade in Global Networks’, in L. Raynold, D. Murray & J. Wilkinson (eds.) Fair Trade: The challenges of transforming globalisation , (London: Routledge, 2007), p. 120.
  4. 4. ‘ Fair Trade is more of a consumer- dependent movement for change rather than a consumer- led movement.’ M. K. Goodman, ‘Reading Fair Trade: political ecological imaginary and the moral economy of Fair Trade foods’, Political Geography 23 (2004) p. 901. A consumer-dependent movement for change
  5. 5. Challenging labelling companies ‘ No one knows where the authority to make and impose their rules on others came from. They seem self appointed.’ Fr shay Cullen, People's Recovery, Empowerment Development Assistance Foundation (Preda), March 2006.
  6. 6. What is ‘authentic’ Fair Trade? WFTO represents over 350 organisations committed to 100% Fair Trade. FLO represents 19 Labelling Initiatives covering 23 countries. In 2008, consumers spent an estimated €2.9bn on Fairtrade certified products. World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO)
  7. 7. Oxfam Shop in Summertown, Oxford, (1988) Oxfam Co-op Project ‘ Help the Hungry to Help Each Other’ (1966) ) Oxfam: Helping by Selling
  8. 8. ‘ The Fair Trade Mark is an ambition to engage UK consumer power on a significant scale, to give a fairer deal to Third World producers of basic commodities.’ Fair Trade Mark Steering Group, (August 1989) Fairtrade Foundation: a fairer deal?
  9. 9. Nestlé: Partners’ Blend Nestlé’s Fairtrade certified coffee, Partners’ Blend, was launched in October 2005.
  10. 10. ‘ The larger battle for trade justice cannot be won with shopping bag politics.’ Tomy Mathews, Fair Trade Alliance Kerala (FTAK) and Fairtrade Foundation Board Member. Conclusions
  11. 11. Matthew Anderson