Monday, February 05, 2007

Spring fair

Cream-crackered today after our annual trip as directors of Fair Do’s to the Spring Fair in Birmingham’s NEC. We saw about 20 stalls and placed orders with 4 new suppliers, which was all very exciting. But it was tiring and, thinking about it, because you’re walking past stall after stall of interesting product, it’s visually stimulating all day so the processing bit of the brain doesn’t get to switch off.

A few years ago there were about half a dozen potential fair trade suppliers at the Spring Fair. Now there are many more and the product variety is far greater. Fair trade just seems more prominent everywhere – including Virgin Trains, which only serve fair trade tea and coffee from their onboard cafes as far as I could see.

I guess that’s the sea-change. Fair trade has gone from being the minor preserve of tree-hugging loons and caring campaigners with a stall at the back of the church. It’s gone into the mainstream and flourished. I was interviewed a while ago about fair trade and was asked to sum up the ‘struggle’. I said "We’ve won. Not that there isn’t a long way to go, but we’ve won." People ask about fair trade now. They consider where their products come from, how they’re grown, how they’re made. It’s entered the mindset of a huge swathe of people.

And when companies like Nestle feel the need to bring out a fair trade brand, or Tesco, or Asda, or any of the other monolithic corporate antichrists, then you know that you’ve won. Because when ‘they’ decide they ought to join you it’s because they’ve realised that they can’t beat you.

I love the smell of fair trade coffee in the morning. It’s the smell of… victory.


  1. Yeah, but isn't Nestle bringing out Fair Trade coffee a bit of a joke...?!

  2. I think its a lot of a joke. Tokenism at its worst. But, as I said, it does mean we've won.