Fairtrade Fortnight is bigger and better than ever this year. This annual promotional campaign is effective at both increasing product sales and building belief in the possibility of a better world.
Co-operatives have played a major role in the development of Fairtrade across the world. In 1998, the Co-operative Group became the first UK major retailer to stock Fairtrade products in all its stores, following a trend set by many small retail and wholesale co-ops.
In Africa and South America, it was co-operatives of farmers, especially of cocoa and coffee, that were the first to meet the standards required to market their produce as Fairtrade.
Fairtrade is just one example of how co-ops have often been pioneers in new food movements – community supported agriculture, fair trade, food miles, organic, vegetarian/vegan, organic, veg box schemes, wholefoods, zero waste etc.
Determination to supply wholesome food at a fair price drove the Rochdale Pioneers to set up in 1844 a society that became the prototype for the co-operative movement in the UK.
Many years later, in the 1970s, it was food, especially wholefoods and vegetarianism, that inspired a new wave of workers’ co-ops. One of the quaint characteristics of these wholefood co-ops was that customers were encouraged to ‘bag the beans’ themselves. Many of today’s retail co-ops are reviving this practice as a way of reducing unnecessary packaging. In 2019, Valley Organics in Hebden Bridge opened a ‘zero-waste’ outlet which was helped by a loan from Co-op Loan Fund.
In recent years we have directly helped the following co-ops involved in producing and selling food:
Boundary Brewing, craft brewery in Belfast
Calon Wen, co-op of organic milk producers across Wales
Dunbar Community Bakery, high street baker and patisserie
Lauriston Farm, community supported agriculture
Leicester Wholefoods, long-established wholefood shop
Plotgate, community supported agriculture
Regather, producer and supplier of local food in Sheffield
Scotland the Bread, co-op venture to grow better grain and bake better bread
Valley Organics, grocery shop
Wild Thyme, wholefood shop and juice bar