Fairtrade ‘catching on’ in Honiton

Free samples enjoyed during talk to mark Fairtrade Fortnight.

The origins of Fairtrade were explained to senior citizens in Honiton last week - as they tucked into Fairtrade chocolate and biscuits supplied free of charge by The Co-operative.

Part of Fairtrade Fortnight, the Senior Council for Honiton hosted a special coffee morning in the Methodist Church to promote a movement that was first established 40 years ago.

Green Party town councillor Sharon Pavey was the guest speaker and explained how Cathod, Oxfam, Christian Aid and the National Federation of Women’s Institutes were among the primary movers and shakers that got Fairtrade off the ground.

“It is about better prices, good working conditions, local sustainability and fairness to workers in the developing world,” she said. “There are movements towards Fairtrade in this country, for farmers and producers, but, if you look at things generally, we are seen as a rich country.

“The concept has been around for over 40 years, but formal labelling was not introduced until the 1990s.”

Councillor Pavey said over 3,000 products are now licensed as Fairtrade - including over 20 per cent of coffee and bananas sold in the UK.

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Cotton, beauty products, ornamental plants and sports balls are among the non-edible products to win Fairtrade status.

“The products are available in all major supermarkets and many cafes and restaurants,” said Councillor Pavey. “Part of what you pay is a percentage, a social premium, that is reinvested into projects in the area where a product is produced.”

While Fairtrade has really caught on, Councillor Pavey acknowledged that being an ethical shopper doesn’t always come cheap.

She said: “For me, personally, I think it’s about doing what you can.

“For treats, like hot chocolate or chocolate bars, you can pay a little bit extra.”

Tony Simpson, the retired secretary of the senior council, said: “Fairtrade is spreading in this country. It is really catching on.”

Honiton Town Council is keen to see Honiton develop into a Fairtrade town.

Councillor Pavey doesn’t think it has fully achieved that yet, but said: “I think it will move forward, but these things take time.”