Campaigning NGO Banana Link, as part of the Europe-wide Make Bananas Fair campaign, recently visited several Fairtrade banana and pineapple plantations in Ghana.
This heartening story shows how the combination of Fairtrade certification, empowered and organised independent trade unions - and, increasingly, organic production - can really transform the environmental and social prospects for fruit plantations.
In mid-November, a joint press release declared a new “global partnership” between Fairtrade and Cadbury, the brand owned by global snack company Mondelēz International.
They announced that Cadbury Dairy Milk will no longer be Fairtrade certified. Instead, all Cadbury products will be brought under Mondelēz International’s in-house sustainability programme, ‘Cocoa Life’. The Fairtrade logo will be replaced with the Cocoa Life logo, and Fairtrade will become an implementing partner for Cocoa Life, with this partnership being indicated on the back of pack.
It has been seven years since Cadbury Dairy Milk became Fairtrade certified in the UK. It was a pivotal moment – perhaps the pivotal moment – in the ‘mainstreaming’ of Fairtrade in this country. At a stroke, 350 million chocolate bars a year were certified, bringing the Fairtrade Mark into every corner shop in the country.
Fairtrade campaigners celebrated and the future looked promising, with Cadbury chief executive Todd Stitzer saying that he planned to convert their other chocolate brands to Fairtrade "as soon as we can do it". It felt like perhaps Cadbury had re-engaged with its progressive Quaker roots, bringing a new 21st century ethics into the heart of its business model.
A year later, the company was the subject of a hostile and controversial takeover by US multinational Kraft, though not before they had converted the Green & Blacks range owned by Cadbury to Fairtrade. Although Kraft promised to honour Cadbury's Fairtrade commitments, it was clear that there would be no further expansion of Fairtrade certification as had previously been hoped. In 2012, Kraft split into two companies, and Cadbury became a brand owned by a new multinational food company called Mondelēz International.
The new joint announcement from Cadbury and Fairtrade unsurprisingly describes the new deal in glowing terms as a “ground-breaking commitment” and an “evolution of our partnership”. But for Fairtrade campaigners, it is mixed news at best.