Bath and Somerset businesses invited to take part in the South West Fair Trade Business Awards

By Ben Carey on 28 February, 2020

Organisations in Bath and Somerset are invited to take part in The South West Fair Trade Business Awards 2020 on Friday 15th May.

The Awards, which recognise businesses and organisations taking action against exploitation in supply chains by choosing Fair Trade, are free to enter and are open for nominations until Friday 3rd April.

Briony Williams, star of The Great British Bake Off, leads an all-female line up at this year’s ceremony alongside Jaya Chakrabarti, CEO of Transparency in the Supply Chains (TISC), and Nicola Matthews, UK Marketing Manager at Tony’s Chocolonely.

The ceremony will highlight the exploitation that still underpins the cocoa industry, impacting the lives of thousands of cocoa workers, especially women. Earning less than 75 pence per day, female cocoa workers enjoy fewer rights than their male counterparts, and yet carry out the bulk of the work on West African cocoa farms, a disparity highlighted by the Fairtrade Foundation’s She Deserves campaign.

Bristol Fair Trade, which organises the Business Awards each year, recently joined Briony in the kitchen to celebrate the start of Fairtrade Fortnight.

Below, Briony shares her own experience of delving deeper into Fair Trade:

“I’m not going to lie, I’ve never fully understood what Fair Trade actually means. I know that it’s a good thing, and that if I buy Fair Trade products then I am putting some good back into the world, but why is that? After I was asked to present the South West Fair Trade Business Awards, I decided I could no longer carry on being ignorant; it was time to figure out exactly what is meant by Fair Trade, how it applies to me and my life, and why I should care a bit more about what food I’m putting into my bakes and buying for my family.

“Let’s start with what Fair Trade actually is. To quote the internet, ‘Fairtrade [certification] is trading between companies in developed countries and producers in developing countries. Fair prices are paid to the producers, and companies are able to provide workers with a stable income that can improve their lives’. My understanding of this is that every person involved in the process of food production, all the way to the farmers that grow the produce or ingredients, is paid reasonably. This means that when you buy a product in the supermarket with the ‘Fairtrade’ symbol on it, you are making a conscious decision to better the lives of those producing it in developing countries.

“So how can I apply this to me, my family and my baking? I thought I would do a little test by going shopping for the ingredients I use in my signature carrot cake. Every item I needed, I made sure I looked through the products on offer to find the Fairtrade stamp wherever possible. There were some bits that I couldn’t find – for fresh ingredients such as the butter or carrots, it’s best to buy local. But so many baking ingredients like sugar, nuts, spices, and oil were easy to track down. When I got to the checkout, I was expecting the total bill to be significantly higher because I have always had the impression that Fair Trade equals more expensive, so I was pleasantly surprised when it was only a few pounds more than normal and I got a bit of a boost knowing I had bought predominantly Fair Trade.

“The final part of my quest to comprehend Fair Trade was to figure out how I can incorporate it into my daily life. To be honest, this is the easiest part; I need to make a concerted effort to buy more Fair Trade products, simple as that. My daughter loves bananas, eats them every day, so when there is a 10p difference between a pack which is fair for farmers and a pack that isn’t, I am going to buy the Fair Trade ones. When I am whipping up a chocolate cake, I will look for the cocoa powder with the symbol that tells me I am making the decision to care about where it came from, and that the farmers who grow the cocoa beans are being paid fairly.

“This process of discovery has actually led me full circle back to the idea that buying Fair Trade puts a little bit of good back into the world, and I have to admit that’s reason enough for me.”