This is an important month for those who support the production of food products the “fair trade” way.
It's fair trade month in Canada, and Sean McHugh of the Canadian Fair Trade Network was in North Battleford to spread the message about the organization’s activities this month.
McHugh is on a western Canada trip spreading the message about purchasing and “the impact they can have in the products and companies they buy from.”
The message he wants to spread is “there are a whole variety of impacts for our purchases,” and for people to “really think about the impacts of the products that we buy, especially when it comes to coffee, tea, sugar and a whole variety of products that we source from countries all over the global South.”
Buying “fair trade,” McHugh says, has an impact on those communities and the people who produce those products.
Essentially, fair trade is “ensuring decent working conditions, [and] a better standard of living.
"There are minimum prices that are built in, there’s a lot to do with direct international relationships, they’re getting companies to work directly with co-ops," said McHugh.
"Currently in a lot of our global supply chains, there’s no way to know who's gotten paid, how much they got paid, or how they’ve been treated. Fair trade is hoping to change that.”
He says about half the world’s countries are involved in fair trade in some way – about 30 countries in the northern hemisphere that act as buyers and sellers, and another 75 countries all over Latin America, Asia and Africa which produce the products.
McHugh said that during fair trade month about 1,500 retailers will be doing fair trade promotions with the products they sell. May 13 is World Fair Trade Day, and there will be a number of activities commemorating that.
McHugh said his organization runs some national programs for “Fair Trade Towns” and “Fair Trade Campuses” to help promote Fair Trade.
As for how to purchase fair trade-certified products, McHugh says you can look for packaging that has the green and blue “Fairtrade” label on them. When shoppers see that label “you know that product has been produced in a different way,” said McHugh.
More information can be found at www.fairtrade.ca and about the Fair Trade Network at www.cftn.ca.