Fair trade - the confused consumer's guide<br />

Fair trade special - By Dominic Elliott and Christopher Thompson<br />


Which supermarket trades most fairly? The Fairtrade label for food and beverages is a trademark, licensed by the Fairtrade Labelling Organisations International. Pioneered by the Max Havelaar Foundation in the Netherlands, the first Fairtrade warranty label appeared in 1986 on imported Mexican coffee. Today, UK supermarkets sell Fairtrade products ranging from coffee, tea and rum through to chocolate, mangoes and honey. (Except for cotton and the recent addition of footballs, there is at present no equivalent labelling for other goods, such as clothes, home wares or jewellery.)

In the table below, produced in consultation with Ethical Consumer magazine, we look at how high-street food suppliers compare on fair trade. Scores for workers' rights are derived from three categories used in the December 2003 Ethical Consumer report on supermarkets: oppressive regimes, workers' rights, and codes of conduct. A score of 6 represents favourable working conditions; a score of 0 indicates disregard for the plight of producers. The highest fair-trade rating of 2 is reserved for retailers with own-brand Fairtrade products, while retailers selling no Fairtrade products add no score to their total.


fair trade refers to the general practice of supporting the suppliers and producers of tradable goods in developing countries
Fairtrade is the word used to describe goods - foodstuffs, beverages, cotton and footballs - carrying the registered Fairtrade r mark
Fairtrade is a registered trademark which guarantees that the produce meets a minimum set of trade standards
trade justice holds that it is not fair that rich countries, which protected their own industries through subsidies and tariffs to help their economies grow, now say that poor countries cannot do the same
free trade is trade without restrictions, such as tariffs or subsidies, whereby countries can sell their goods on world markets for optimal prices
Fairtrade Labelling Organisations International (FLO) is a group of 19 organisations (including the Fairtrade Foundation) which runs international standard-setting and monitoring
Ethical Trading Initiative is an alliance of companies, NGOs and trade unions seeking to promote and improve implementation of corporate codes of practice on supply-chain working conditions


There is no "fair trade" mark for clothes or textiles except cotton. However, William Young, who teaches on ethical development issues at the University of Leeds, has devised a five-star ranking system that assesses retailers' "ethicality". His gradings, published in his book Ethical Shopping (Fusion Press), were based upon whether retailers implemented a "code of conduct" emphasising good governance, good working practices, health, safety, security, compensation and investment in the future. Those that have no stars do not follow any code of conduct. Although the results are from 2003, according to Young "little has changed" in retailing practices since then.

1/2* Retailer has a code of conduct or is developing one.

* Retailer has published a comprehensive code of conduct.

* * Retailer has independent inspectors of factories to ensure compliance with its code of conduct.

* * * Retailer publicly lists its suppliers in developing countries and the results of factory inspections.

* * * * Retailer uses a fair-trade scheme for all or some products.

* * * * * Retailer has moved implementation of basic workers'/human rights in factories and operates on sustainable development principles.

Star ratings for clothing retailers

* * * * * None

* * * * None

* * * None

* * Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Hawkshead, Littlewoods, Miss Selfridge, Primark, Principles, Principles Menswear, Racing Green, Timberland, Topman, Topshop, Wade Smith, Wallis, Warehouse

* Gap, Marks & Spencer, Monsoon, New Look, Original Levi's Store

1/2* Adams, Benetton, Blazer, Diesel, Edinburgh Woollen Mill, Etam, French Connection, Hugo Boss, Jaeger, Laura Ashley, Mackays, Matalan, Moss Bros, Mothercare, Next, Oasis, Peacocks, River Island, Ted Baker, The Suit Company, Viyella

Company has no code of conduct: Alexon, Austin Reed, Bay Trading, Bhs, bonmarche, Dash, DKNY, Eastex, Emporio Armani, Esprit, Freemans, Gucci, Hobbs, Jigsaw, Mk One, Polo Ralph Lauren, Tie Rack, Yves Saint Laurent

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