Make the Switch to Fairtrade – for people, the planet and prosperity

By Fiona Stephenson

Did you know that your morning cup of tea or coffee can change lives every day? Fairtrade care deeply about people, the planet and collective prosperity. Working towards fairness for all and sustainability is at the heart of everything they do.

Making a simple switch in the office kitchen or canteen can have a huge positive impact on farmers and their families in developing countries, as well as helping the planet.

That’s why, to mark World Fair Trade Day in 2019, they are asking you and your business to Make the Switch to Fairtrade Products.

Switching to Fairtrade products is simple, and it means your tea or coffee break is capable of changing lives, while also filling the kitchen with delicious, ethical produce. What could be better?

So how does Fairtrade work?

It’s simple: Fairtrade is about helping farmers and workers to get better prices, decent working conditions, sustainable livelihoods, and fairer terms of trade. By requiring companies to pay fair and sustainable prices (which must never fall lower than the market price), Fairtrade addresses the injustices of conventional trade, which often discriminates against the poorest, most marginalised producers.


Fairtrade is an alternative approach that is based on partnership; one between those who grow their food and those who consume it. Their global system is 50 percent owned by producers representing farmer and worker organisations.

With an equal voice, producers have a say in decision-making within the General Assembly and on Fairtrade International’s Board of Directors. They are involved in decisions on overall strategy, use of resources and setting prices, premiums and standards.

Fairtrade has also been incorporating gender equality into its programs in developing countries for almost three decades. They require that organisations identify disadvantaged, vulnerable or minority groups to protect their rights and proactively improve their economic and social standing. Put simply, a producer organisation that doesn’t support equality cannot be Fairtrade certified.


By choosing to buy or stock Fairtrade products, shoppers and businesses in New Zealand are ensuring that farmers and workers receive a Fairtrade Premium to invest in economic, social and environmental resources of their own choice.

It means they can implement environmental protection programmes which contribute to the range of solutions needed to address climate change and ultimately benefit us all.

Through projects such as reforestation or energy efficient cookstoves, vulnerable communities can reduce emissions and become eligible for carbon credits while also strengthening themselves against the effects of climate change.

The Fairtrade Standards prohibit the use of certain harmful chemicals, while the Fairtrade Premium can be used to train producers in organic and sustainable techniques like composting and using recycled materials.


For most Fairtrade goods there is a Fairtrade Minimum Price which is set to cover the cost of sustainable production for that product in that region. If the market price for that product is higher than the minimum price, then producers should receive the market price.

This acts as a vital safety net for farmers and workers and protects them from fluctuations in the market prices of the products they grow for a living. Fairtrade is the only certification scheme that offers this unique minimum price protection for farmers.

Over and above the Fairtrade Minimum Price, the Fairtrade Premium is an additional sum of money which goes into a communal fund for workers and farmers to use – as they see fit – to improve their social, economic and environmental conditions.

Producers determine democratically what is most important to them; whether this is education or healthcare for their children, improving their businesses or building vital infrastructure such as roads and bridges for their community.

So now you’re familiar with the important work Fairtrade is doing to change lives, you can be part of the solution – it’s up to you to Make the Switch!

How can my workplace or business start supporting Fairtrade?

To mark World Fair Trade Day, we’re giving away a delicious pack of Fairtrade certified products to the first 15 Sustainable Business Network members to sign up.  Follow this link and provide your details to get the goods!

Making the switch showcases to your team, customers and wider network that you’re taking specific action for an environmentally responsible and socially just world, while enjoying a quality cup of tea or coffee. We can’t wait for you to get involved!