Why is Fairtrade not sexy in SA?
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There are a number of Fairtrade Wines in South Africa but it just does not seem to be attracting an audience or as much awareness as it should.

According to Fairtrade SA, the FAIRTRADE Mark is the most widely recognised and trusted ethical label in the world. When a product carries the FAIRTRADE Mark, it means that the whole supply chain is certified against the relevant Fairtrade Standards and is audited annually to ensure compliance. The FAIRTRADE Mark is a registered trademark owned and licensed by Fairtrade International.
The FAIRTRADE Mark can be found on a wide range of products, including food and drinks, cotton and flowers, and jewellery. When a product carries the mark it means that all the ingredients that can be sourced as Fairtrade are Fairtrade. 

The first Sustainable Brands Conference was just held at the brand new Century City Convention Centre for four days, culminating in a breakaway debate on Fairtrade on Tuesday, 17 May.

The forum discussion/debate was very ably chaired by Cape Talk's Africa Melane and the discussion incorporated two Fairtrade producers, viz Wine represented by Marius Louw, CEO of Du Toitskloof Wines, and Coffee - represented by Jonathan Robinson,  CEO of Bean There. On the panel were also Fairtrade SA Arianna Baldo, FloCert SA Bronwyn Page-Shipp, Pick n Pay Andre Nel, Dept of Agriculture & Tourism - Goodwell Dingaan and Insights Survey CEO Yashvir Majaraj.

In a business survey done recently by Insights Survey, they asked many business why they were partnering up and doing Fairtrade and the top 3 reasons were:

  1. It's the right thing to do
  2. Improve Brand Reputation
  3. To have a Unique Selling Point

However, consumers in general in South Africa don't seem to be interested in Fairtrade and what it stands for.  According to Andre Nel from Pick n Pay, he is seeing a renewed interest by young consumers who really want to know where their product originates and is seeing a heighened level of activism. My personal feeling is that if we look at our current tertiary students and see their level of concern and activism around subjects in which they are interested, then I am certain that they will also be keen to ensure that the products they consume are sustainably produced.

The affluent end of the market is more interested and driving sales of Fairtrade products, as they often seem to have a higher price in South Africa, but somehow there aren't really any premium wines in the South African Fairtrade market which is odd. In Europe or the UK, there is no price differentiation between a product which is Fairtrade and which is not.

There is a common complaint from wine producers that certification is very expensive and there are too many types of certification required from too many bodies.  Fairtrade audits are charged in Euros and with the Rand being at an all-time low, it is no surprise that producers are balking at the prices of being audited and certified.

And when there is no real incentive for the consumer to purchase the wine. Says Marius Louw, CEO of Du Toitskloof ''It is really tough to convince a consumer to consider the workers who produced the wine"

There are many wineries who have sustainable processes in place, have land reform activities, profit-share and BEE projects which they are driving and then to add the Fairtrade accreditation on top of this just does not seem to be worth their while.

There are surprisingly few Fairtrade wines; viz Earthbound (Distell), Place in the Sun (Distell), Du Toitskloof, Bosman, Palesa and a few others. Origin Wines also have their Fairhills Wine project and with most of their wines being sold internationally, it makes sense.  In the UK over 93% of consumers recognise and understand the Fairtrade Logo and brand, whereas in South Africa it is virtually unknown.

Fairtrade week is on at present until 22 May - see more HERE

For more on Fairtrade - see HERE

View more pics HERE from the seminar

Tell us what you think of Fairtrade.. add your comments below.





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