Fair-trade Business Under Pressure

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It’s a familiar sight at the back of churches in the United Kingdom: stalls offer fairly traded goods. You can buy crafts, coffee, or even wine. But Traidcraft, one of the U.K.’s leading fair-trade businesses, says its trading model is no longer sustainable.

“Traidcraft plc’s recent trading has been poor, and despite enormous efforts by staff, management, Fair Traders, and many fair trade shops over the last few years to reverse the company’s performance we have not yet succeeded,” CEO Robin Roth said in a statement to supporters.

Traidcraft’s charity branch, Traidcraft Exchange, will continue to support farmers and lobby government. The decision about closing the trading arm is still in a consultation period and not final.

Traidcraft started in 1979, selling fair-trade coffee, sugar, and chocolate, as well as rugs and handmade baskets from Bangladesh. It began selling at church stalls and at markets, with a philosophy of close interaction of those who made the wares and cutting out the middle man.

Roth added: “Traidcraft plc’s mission to put the principles of fair trade into commercial practice is not, in any sense, fulfilled, but we appreciate that it is time to consider new approaches.”

John Martin


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