Once, people laughed at the notion that fair trade could infiltrate the profit-hungry world of retail. Yet new figures from the Fairtrade Foundation will reveal tomorrow that UK consumers take the issue very seriously, spending half a billion pounds on Fairtrade-branded products last year.

However, the rush to fair trade is prompting questions about how "fair" it really is to small farmers in developing nations. The rate of sales growth rocketed during 2007, up 80 per cent on the previous year as companies from Sainsbury's to Virgin Atlantic stepped up their commitment to fairly traded goods. The total value of Fairtrade sales hit £490m, up from £273m in 2006.

Tim Harford, author of The Logic of Life, who first highlighted that some chains were profiteering from Fairtrade, said: "At the UK consumer end, some companies have charged a far higher mark-up on Fairtrade products than ever goes to producers."

RLCC: Family farms have been disappearing now for decades. Farming consolidation has been taking it's place. Fair Trade sounds good, and it's better than farming that kills the soil and produces off oil-based chemicals and raises up artificially genetically modified crops. It isn't though the solution. As we've been saying over and over, the solution is the completely voluntary giving-and-sharing economy. That's real Christianity.

Originally by CommonDreams from CommonDreams.org on February 24, 2008, 5:05pm

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  • Tom Usher

    About Tom Usher

    Employment: 2008 - present, website developer and writer. 2015 - present, insurance broker. Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration. Volunteerism: 2007 - present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.
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