Scots urged to find out more about where their food comes from to combat poverty
A new poll reveals few people make a conscious link between food and the millions of poverty-stricken farmers in developing countries who grow it.
New research published today to coincide with Fairtrade Fortnight (27 February-12 March) shows while 84% of Scotland’s population drinks tea or coffee at break time, one in five never think about who produces their food and drink.
Smallholder farmers are responsible for providing the majority of the UK’s tea and coffee, yet one in three people in Kenya’s coffee and tea growing regions live in poverty; over 2 million children work in hazardous conditions in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana; and the average cocoa farmer in Côte d’Ivoire lives on less than 40p a day, the foundation says.
Despite this, 70% in the country say that they are aware of the positive change that buying ethically-sourced goods can bring to communities in the developing world.
The Fairtrade Foundation’s annual Fairtrade Fortnight will spread the message that consumers need to speak up on behalf of producers more loudly than ever.
Orgnaisers say 2017 will be one of the most uncertain years for generations when it comes to international trade.
Following the vote for Brexit, the UK will need to renegotiate more than 50 international trade deals; and no one knows yet what this will mean for farmers and workers in poor countries, warns the charity.
Michael Gidney, chief executive of the Fairtrade Foundation said: “Fairtrade is bringing lasting change to the lives of 1.6m farmers and workers around the world and it’s wonderful to see Fairtrade bucking the market trend with strong growth and new commitments.
"Yet too many companies still do not publish what they pay their producers. It’s time to really push the direct connection between the food we buy and their impact on farmers’ livelihoods. If people really knew, and thought about it, would they still make the same choices?”
Once challenged to consider how purchasing power can count, 76% of those living in Scotland, compared to 70% in the rest of the UK, say they would now look for ethically sourced products.
“When we reach for our everyday foods without necessarily questioning what lies behind them, seduced by nice packaging, or attractive products and brands, we may be unconsciously feeding exploitation”, Gidney said.
The Fairtrade Foundation has made a new short film entitled ‘Don’t Feed Exploitation’. When young children turn up on a couple’s doorstep with a food delivery, their reactions are caught on camera.
The film shows the journey of food – from the beginning of the supply chain, where workers toil away in rough conditions, directly to the end of the journey, where we bring the produce into our homes.
Gidney added: “Imagine what could happen if we all put Fairtrade into our shopping baskets: that would be an incredible opportunity to reach more producers with even more impact, but it would also be a powerful signal to companies, and to government, that there are millions of people in this country who do not want their daily food to come at the cost of exploiting farmers.”