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Every year there are a host of dates food lovers should be aware of and next up on the catering calendar is Fairtrade Fortnight, which will take place between February 23rd-March 8th.. This well-established event aims to make consumers and businesses more aware of the impact of the products they choose to buy or sell. This year, the focus will fall particularly on three key products: cocoa, sugar and tea.

Individuals, shops, restaurants and cafes alike are encouraged to swap these and other products for Fairtrade versions, but this needn’t be a temporary switch. By making a few small changes to ensure your establishment more actively supports Fairtrade, you could gain Fairtrade-friendly accreditation. Here’s what you need to know…

What do we mean by Fairtrade?

A product marked with the Fairtrade logo indicates that the farmer who grew the ingredients got a fair price for their efforts, along with his or her workers. In addition, the community receives a Fairtrade premium to be invested in development.

Fairtrade buyers also aim to provide more stability for regions through long-term purchase contracts. Environmental protection and employee rights are also built into Fairtrade standards, so the benefits extend beyond the financial.

What are the benefits of gaining Fairtrade accreditation?

Sourcing and selling Fairtrade products signals to your customers and staff that you care about the ethics of what you sell. As a well-recognised brand mark, the Fairtrade logo can also be reassuring to customers who have become more aware of food sourcing issues since incidents like the horsemeat scandal.

According to the Fairtrade Organisation’s own research, nine out of ten customers trust the Fairtrade mark. This means shoppers are likely to feel more comfortable buying products marked with the logo or shopping where the mark is displayed.

How your restaurant or café can attain Fairtrade accreditation

Gaining Fairtrade-friendly accreditation is surprisingly simple. You can become a Fairtrade restaurant or café by committing to stocking two or more Fairtrade products and actively advertising that fact to your customers. You should then notify your local council of your commitment.

Towns and cities can gain their own Fairtrade accreditation via their council. One of the things that is assessed when councils apply for accreditation is the number of retail and catering outlets in the local area who serve Fairtrade products, so by committing to stocking Fairtrade products you could be helping your own community as well as someone else’s. At the last count in October 2014 there were 599 Fairtade accredited towns in the UK, though other communities/businesses, such as university campuses, can also gain accreditation.

How you can take a few Fairtrade steps

The obvious products for cafes, restaurants and other catering businesses to source as Fairtrade are coffee, sugar, cocoa and tea, but there are many more items that can be sourced Fairtrade. Start by asking your suppliers if they can source Fairtrade alternatives to the items you are currently buying. You can also deal directly with Fairtrade accredited suppliers, which can be found in a purchasing guide downloadable from the Fairtrade.org website here.

Many business owners like to source products locally but there’s no reason for local and Fairtrade products to be in competition with each other. If you source a fantastic honey from a local bee keeper, you may want to continue to stock that product and commit instead to ensuring the bananas used alongside the honey in your cakes and smoothies are Fairtrade. It’s about finding a balance, which is why Fairtrade-friendly accreditation suggests you stock a minimum number of Fairtrade products.

However, there are particular rules governing the use of the Fairtrade logo, which you’ll need to be aware of if you’d like to use it in your café window, on your menu or perhaps even on your website. You can learn more about the rules here, but the main thing to remember is that if you’d like to integrate it into design work you will need to run your artistic efforts past the Fairtrade Organisation for approval.

Ideas for Fairtrade Fortnight

If you’re keen to get started with planning some Fairtrade events there are a number of ways you can start showing your Fairtrade-friendly side, for the fortnight and beyond! Many cafes and restaurants choose to run Fairtrade menu specials throughout the period, highlighting the quality of the ingredients that have been fairly sourced. Another option is to run your own tasting event or to organise a visit from a Fairtrade producer or speaker, with some nibbles to accompany, of course!

Do you use or sell Fairtrade products in your business? If not, is it something you would consider doing in the future? We’d love to hear your views on Fairtrade, so share them below.


Lockhart Catering on 22 January 2015 3:49 AM

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