Fair Trade Sales Defy Recession, So Does It Help the Poor?


Image credit: kafka4prez, used under Creative Commons license.

We already know that in some places, and some sectors, ethical consumerism has bucked the recession. With Fair Trade Fortnight now well under way, it's good to know that the Fair Trade economy is firmly part of this trend in the UK at least—with sales passing GB£1bn (US$1.5bn) a year. Some say that figure could double by next year.
Fair Trade Sales Keep Growing
Dan Milmo over at The Guardian quotes Harriet Lamb—The Fairtrade Foundation's executive director—on how sales of Fair Trade goods have sky rocketed in the last few years and look set to keep growing. There is, she argues, good reason to believe they could reach GB£2bn in 2011.

This success has come on the back of increasing consumer demand, support from major retailers and food manufacturers and—Lamb was quick to argue—has only been made possible because it is delivering real, solid improvements in the lives of farmers and producers around the world:

"Fairtrade is going from strength to strength because the public want it, it makes business sense, and most importantly because it's working for the millions of farmers, workers and their families who see Fairtrade as their lifeline in these tough times. They'll be cheering to know that UK shoppers and businesses still care."

Will Sales Silence Fair Trade Critics?
Lamb's assertions that farmers do indeed benefit from Fair Trade is, as Milmo implies, a none too subtle response to The Institute of Economic Affairs' critique of Fair Trade, which argued that multinational corporations did more for farmers than Fair Trade programs, and raised concerns that Fair Trade programs imposed Western "whims" like an aversion to (gasp!) child labor and genetically modified products.

More on Fair Trade
Fair Trade Fortnight Says Show Off Your Label
Cadbury's Dairy Milk Goes Fair Trade
Is Fair Trade Chocolate Fair Enough?
Green & Blacks Goes Fair Trade in the USA