We are currently in the middle of Fairtrade fortnight, which is a 2 week campaign, raising awareness of global trading by paying fair prices for the crop from third world farmers. When I think about Fairtrade, I think about some of more obvious things like Fairtrade bananas or choosing a Fairtrade tea or coffee brand. Until doing some more research, I didn’t realise that there are are over 6,000 different Fairtrade products including some things I wasn’t aware of. As part of this eco blog, I wanted to write about some of the less known Fairtrade products where were we can make a difference with the power of consumer choice.
What better place to start than with looking at different option for a Fairtrade bottle of wine? Whether you prefer red, white or rosé wine, a glass with dinner or during a relaxing evening, it certainly can be something that many will enjoy and relax with. When we are allowed to meet again in person, it is also makes a great gift for a BBQ host and to be able to share a glass with someone. I am very much looking forward to those days again!
One of the criticisms of buying fair-trade in the past was that whilst it guarantees good ethical practice but it doesn’t guarantee good produce. This is partly due to having to mass produce for supermarkets to be able to keep up supply. Given that fair-trade also often has a higher price tag I think there is a good argument that the product should be superior in quality and taste too. I would want to see that coming through giving even more reasons to buy good food with a clear conscience too.
According to the Fairtrade Foundation, wine is produced in over 50 countries but there are only actually three that currently subscribe to Fairtrade labelling: South Africa, Argentina and Chile.
Fairtrade works with 38 wine producers and represent the rights of over 5,440 workers from across these countries.
South Africa is the largest producer, with 24 organisations and around two-thirds of Fairtrade wine sales. Chile also produces a high proportion of Fairtrade wine, with 9 producer organisations in the country. Historically both of these countries have had turbulent economic, social and political challenges. South Africa had difficult working conditions under the apartheid system with low wages and unfair working conditions.
Chile has a long history of co-operatives in wine grape growing and wine making but many went bankrupt during the Pinochet regime of the later years of the 1900’s. As a result of this, many vineyards are in areas of extreme poverty and struggle with low market prices that do not generate sufficient income to meet the needs of their families. Buying Fairtrade helps improve these situations with a Fairtrade premium from wine sales being paid to support these communities to recover.
I was also surprised that not all supermarkets offer Fairtrade wine as a consumer choice. It has certainly made me think about where we shop. There is a full list of retailers on the Fairtrade website with Coop being highlighted as the largest selection like this Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa to this Carmenere from Chile, both can be purchased on-line. I picked up a Pinotage and a Chenin Blanc from Sainsburys this week as part of my weekly shop as they had an offer supporting Fairtrade Fortnight. I am yet to enjoy them but I am sure I will with an ethical conscience and hopefully they will not disappoint on the quality too.
When you’re done with your glass bottle of wine you can recycle it with your glass household waste or upcycle it into a fun eco gift like a vase for flowers!