Fairtrade Fortnight concludes with warning to consumers on fragile nature of supply chains
During the past two weeks of Fairtrade Fortnight, the movement has taken the chance to remind shoppers that everyday essentials such as bananas, coffee and cocoa could be at risk of becoming ‘endangered’ due to climate change, writes Neill Barston.
As Confectionery Production reported at the end of last month, the annual focus for the social justice organisation has encouraged consumers to be mindful of their purchases, and this year a carried out a particularly notable scheme.
Surrounding this, Fairtrade Foundation published a new report including analysis carried out by independent advisors 3Keel, that reveals the fragile nature of many supply chains – including those serving the chocolate and wider confectionery sector.
Among the key initiatives during the two week event, the movement showcased an immersive retail space, ‘The Endangered Aisle’in Shoreditch, London, to highlight the urgent need to protect the future of food and the small switches shoppers can make to play their part. The launch coincides with Fairtrade Fortnight – the annual campaign that raises awareness around the importance of ensuring farmers are given a fair price to cover the increasing costs associated with the climate crisis.
Visitors experienced the reality of what the supermarket shop could be like in the near future, learn more about where their favourite supermarket staples come from and hear first-hand stories from Fairtrade producers about the challenges they face related to the climate crisis. Those who make a sustainability pledge will be able to take home complimentary Fairtrade products.
This follows research that reveals significant sections of the British public believe that climate change will affect their weekly shop, with 33% saying they think availability will be affected and 41% stating that it will affect price. However only 38% have made active changes and 23% are not sure how to help. Meanwhile only 16% of those surveyed check the country of origin of all the products they buy.
Over 350,000 tonnes of cocoa imported to the UK each year originates from countries where production faces risks including climate change and loss of critical ecosystem services.
Studies suggest that many cocoa-growing regions in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire – which produce over half of the world’s cocoa – will likely become too hot to grow the crop by 2050.
During 2001-2018, cocoa was associated with over 732,000 ha of deforestation worldwide – that is an area almost twice the size of Sussex which has been deforested.
Cocoa farmer Sadick Abanga, from Kumasi, Ghana comments: ‘I didn’t know I was punishing the land, now because of this [Fairtrade] project I’ve seen the benefits, there are more nutrients in the soil. The training officer always comes to the field, even when I am not there he goes to my farm and tells me what’s good or bad, using banana irrigation during the dry season.’
Caitlin McCormack, 3Keel Senior Consultant, added: “The UK sources a significant proportion of consumer favourites including bananas, coffee and cocoa from countries that face potential risks to future production, including from changes in the climate and the loss of biodiversity and habitat that provide ecosystem services that are critical to farming. It’s essential that we work with producers in these countries to help them shift to sustainable and resilient methods of production”
As Fairtrade noted, while it’s all too easy to assume that our food will always be available, stocked and ready to shop, the reality is not the case. We know how much the public love their chocolate fix, their daily cappuccino and baking that banana bread. Over 40% of Brits shared that coffee is the Fairtrade product they would most struggle to live without, followed by chocolate and bananas (both 31%).
It’s no surprise, then, that nearly two-thirds (60%) of Brits say they would be ‘devastated, annoyed or upset’ if chocolate was no longer available to buy in the UK. Meanwhile, over half (54%) say they would be ‘devastated, annoyed or upset’ if coffee and bananas were no longer available to buy in the UK.
Mike Gidney, CEO of the Fairtrade Foundation, commented: “It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee, because it may not be on our shelves forever. Today, climate breakdown is making it harder and harder to grow food crops, making our food security ever more vulnerable. There is a risk that farmers will have to stop farming. In some worst-case scenarios, certain varieties of the foods they grow for UK consumption could become luxury items. That’s why it’s important that farmers and workers receive a fair price that will enable them to invest in transitioning to sustainable and climate resilient ways of production. We can all do this by choosing Fairtrade. Sustainability doesn’t have to cost the earth.”