The UK Soil Association and the Fairtrade Foundation on Friday launcheda new pilot project to combine organic and Fairtrade certification whichwill apply to British and imported foods.
The one-year pilot project has been developed to increase the range oforganic products that can carry the Fairtrade Mark - a consumer labelthat ensures farmers and workers in the developing world receive abetter deal. Fairtrade standards can be applied to a continuallyexpanding list of commodities from developing countries.
The productsthat qualify as organic and Fairtrade must fall within Fairtraderequirements and the two organisations hope that the pilot project willspeed up the process of developing new products that meet bothstandards.
Under the pilot project, companies selling products fromUK farms as well as from developing countries and elsewhere can apply tocarry the Fairtrade and Soil Association marks.
"Many farmers around the world are suffering from prices for theirproducts which do not cover the cost of production, and this iscertainly true in the UK. People talk about the food chain in the foodindustry but in reality it's a fear chain," said Patrick Holden,director of the Soil Association. "Existing trading practicescontribute to this problem and this new scheme will help promote thechanges needed to ensure a fair return to farmers."
Harriet Lamb,executive director of the Fairtrade Foundation added:"The success ofthe Fairtrade Mark in getting a better deal for producers of majorglobal commodities like coffee, cocoa and bananas has demonstrated thatalternative forms of trade are viable. We are keen to extend thebenefits of Fairtrade to more producers and to enable consumers toexpress their preference for Organic Fairtrade products with theconfidence that our respective assurance schemes provide."
Both organisations are seeking feedback from businesses throughout thefood industry about the pilot project and will assess the scale ofdemand from consumers. One of the objectives of the trial is to developa simplified procedure for obtaining the certification required fororganic and Fairtrade labels.
Under Fairtrade standards, the pricepaid to farmers must cover the sustainable cost of production, whichincludes a margin for profit and investment. In addition, buyers shouldcommit to long-term relationships that enable growers to plan futureproduction with confidence.
It is expected that grapes from SouthAfrica, which could be on sale through major retailers in the next twomonths, will be the first product which meets both organisations'standards under the trial scheme. Other products expected to becertified as organic and Fairtrade as part of the trial programmeinclude potatoes from the UK, green beans, citrus fruit and grapes fromEgypt, and beef, bacon, lamb and pork from the UK.
"Consumerswant their food produced in ways that are truly sustainable to peopleand the environment. This is why it makes sense for the FairtradeFoundation and the Soil Association to work together through theirestablished assurance schemes so that consumers can trust the claimsthat are made by companies," said Harriet Lamb.