Fairtrade Fortnight is an annual promotional campaign which happens once every year, organized and funded by the Fairtrade Foundation to increase awareness of Fairtrade products. It makes use of volunteers who support the goals of Fairtrade but who may also be committed to the more general concepts of fair trade, ethical trading or concerned by development issues. The concept was pioneered by the Fairtrade Foundation in the United Kingdom, initially held in 1997 in Scotland and directed by Barnaby Miln.
The inaugural national launch was on 12 February 1997 at Augustine United Church on Edinburgh's George IV Bridge by Lady Marion Fraser, chairman of the charity Christian Aid. She broke a bar of Fairtrade chocolate to launch the event. It turned out to be a highly successful campaign to get every supermarket throughout Scotland to stock Fairtrade products. Barnaby Miln sent supporters of Christian Aid Scotland, SCIAF, Traidcraft, Oxfam and the World Development Movement a list of 85 supermarkets in Scotland's cities and larger towns, and encouraged during the Fortnight to go and ask for Fairtrade products.
Fairtrade Fortnight spread to the rest of the United Kingdom the following year; today, Fairtrade Fortnights are celebrated in several countries, most notably Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Awareness raising and promotion of Fairtrade certified products to the public are the main objectives of the Fortnight.
Usually events held during the fortnight include:
- Fairtrade food and drink tastings,
- Fashion shows
- Community, school, college and university events
These events are often supported by local authorities and governments, Fairtrade Steering Groups, dozens of charities and ATOs, all seeking to ensure that the local populace purchase fair and ethically traded goods. Local schools and colleges where Fairtrade is a frequently discussed topic can also play significant roles during Fairtrade Fortnight.
Events are highlighted and recorded on various nations' Fairtrade licensing bodies' websites (e.g. the Fairtrade Foundation in the UK or Fairtrade Canada). Most media outlets are keen to support a fast-growing trend in which previously disadvantaged third world producers have a fairer market to sell their wares and develop their economic capabilities.
In 2015 Fairtrade Fortnight was celebrated from February 23 to March 8.
Criticism of Fairtrade
Critics in the Fair trade debate claim that some volunteers can have an incorrect view of Fairtrade, because the information is concealed from them,  in particular that the evidence that little or none of the extra amount paid by consumers always reaches the producers,  and an alleged lack of evidence that Fairtrade has a positive impact on Third World producers. This argument is now largely obsolete as FLO-CERT, the Fairtrade Foundation and other nations' representative organisations and overseas development agencies continue to publish commodity reports and market analyses clearly indicating the benefits of the Fairtrade certification scheme over standard free market trade.
Using volunteers who allegedly do not understand the facts has in the past been criticised by Messrs. Davies and Crane in their report that The Day Chocolate Company, "made considerable use of unpaid volunteer workers for routine tasks, many of whom seemed to be under the (false) impression that they were helping out a charity. Not only might one question the sometimes quite excessive use of unpaid labour in a for-profit organisation, but the management team at Day appeared to have no intention of correcting the obvious misapprehensions of the volunteers. However, this did not appear to be acknowledged as a potential ethical problem at Day."
Fairtrade International and The Fairtrade Foundation produce a significant volume of information and resources for volunteers and interested people who wish to learn more about all aspects of the Fairtrade framework, in addition to more in-depth commodity reports and market analyses across all commodity sectors where it licenses products.
Notes and references
- Herald, 13 February 1997, Retailing by Simon Bain
- Edinburgh Evening News, 14 February 1997, Shop around for fair trade by John Vidal
- Life and Work magazine, March 1997, Pester power puts fairness into focus
- Scottish Episcopalian, April 1997, page 6
- Christian Aid News, April/June 1997, Pester power rules! page 12
- Griffiths, P. (2012), “Ethical Objections to Fairtrade”, Journal of Business Ethics (2012) 105:357–373 DOI 10.1007/s10551-011-0972-0 http://www.griffithsspeaker.com/Fairtrade/why_fair_trade_isn.htm, Accessed 2 February 2012; Mohan, S. (2010). Fair Trade Without the Froth - a dispassionate economic analysis of 'Fair Trade'. London: Institute of Economic Affairs.
- e.g. Griffiths, P., ‘Ethical objections to Fairtrade’ Journal of Business Ethics July 2011(DOI) 10.1007/s10551-011-0972-0 www.springerlink.com Accessed at http://www.griffithsspeaker.com/Fairtrade/why_fair_trade_isn.htm; Valkila, J., Haaparanta, P., & Niemi, N. (2010). “Empowering Coffee Traders? The Coffee Value Chain from Nicaraguan Fair Trade Farmers to Finnish Consumers.” Journal of Business Ethics , 97:257-270. Kilian, B., Jones, C., Pratt, L., & Villalobos, A. (2006). “Is Sustainable Agriculture a Viable Strategy to Improve Farm Income in Central America? A Case Study on Coffee”. Journal of Business Research , 59(3), 322–330.;Mendoza, R., & J. Bastiaensen, J. (2003). “Fair Trade and the Coffee Crisis in the Nicaraguan Segovias.” Small Enterprise Development , 14(2), 36–46.; Potts, N. J. (2004), ‘Fairness with your coffee?’, Auburn, AL: Ludwig von Mises Institute, http://www.mises.org.; Harford, T. (2005), The Undercover Economist, Oxford: Oxford University Press.; Henderson, D. R. (2008), ‘Fair Trade is counterproductive and unfair’, Economic Affairs, 28(3): 62–4.; Howley, K. (2006), ‘Absolution in your cup’, Reason, http:// www.reason.com, March.; Nicholls, A. and C. Opal (2005), Fair Trade: Market-Driven Ethical Consumption, London: Sage.; Sellers, F. S. (2005), ‘Gift-wrapped guilt?’, Washington Post, 18 December.;
- e.g. Griffiths, P., ‘Ethical objections to Fairtrade’ Journal of Business Ethics July 2011(DOI) 10.1007/s10551-011-0972-0 www.springerlink.com Accessed at http://www.griffithsspeaker.com/Fairtrade/why_fair_trade_isn.htm; Mohan, S. (2010). Fair Trade Without the Froth - a dispassionate economic analysis of 'Fair Trade'. London: Institute of Economic Affairs.
- Davies, I.A. and A Crane, ‘Andrew Crane Ethical Decision Making in Fair Trade Companies’, Journal of Business Ethics 45: 79–92, 2003. P84