On Monday I joined Fairtrade campaigners to celebrate the impact of the Edinburgh Fair Trade Festival.
Organised by the Edinburgh Fairtrade City Group, the event recorded the achievements of the City’s schools, businesses and community groups which have done most to promote Fairtrade.
The event marked the beginning of week two of this year’s Fairtrade Fortnight – now in its twentieth year, organised by the Fairtrade Foundation and featuring a range of events across the whole of the UK.
Edinburgh has a long-standing commitment to fair trade and last year celebrated 10 years since being designated an official Fairtrade City. In that time, awareness of Fairtrade products has rocketed with sales valued at £1.67bn in 2014.
With increasing price competition in the grocery sector, the Fairtrade Foundation is promoting a range of initiatives to boost the use of fair trade products in the supply chain. For example, ahead of the launch of Fairtrade Fortnight, Mars announced a deal which will see all cocoa for Mars bars sold in the UK and Ireland sourced from Fairtrade certified sources.
Fairtrade is about getting a better deal for farmers in some of the world’s poorest countries – securing better prices, decent working conditions and fair terms of trade.
I have witnessed first-hand, on visits to places like Bangladesh and Malawi, the benefits that Fairtrade has brought to producers, workers and communities in the developing world – allowing for improved living conditions and investment in services like healthcare and education. Over the years, I’ve also met a number of Fairtrade producers who have visited the UK to talk about their experience.
This year’s Edinburgh celebrations was attended by producers from Mauritius, Palestine and Malawi.
I’ve also laid a motion to welcome the fact that Edinburgh University has now been a Fairtrade University for a decade.
The impact that the choices we make in our shopping habits can have on the lives of these producers is incredible and I hope that during Fairtrade Fortnight and beyond people will consider giving Fairtrade alternatives a go.