Fairtrade Ireland works to promote fair trading practices between Ireland and developing countries. It is a founder member of Fairtrade International, based in Germany, the organisation responsible for setting international Fairtrade standards. Fairtrade Ireland also works closely with FLO’s subsidiary, FLO-Cert, which is responsible for checking compliance with these standards by producers and traders.
Fairtrade Ireland is supported by the main international development and human rights organisations in Ireland – including ActionAid Ireland, Amnesty International, Christian Aid, Comhlámh, Concern, Friends of the Earth, Oxfam Ireland and Trócaire – and by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.
Fairtrade Ireland’s work is funded mainly by licence fees paid by companies, based on their sales of Fairtrade products. Fairtrade Ireland does not raise funds from the public. The best way to support Fairtrade is by buying Fairtrade products.
Fairtrade Ireland is a non-profit non-governmental organisation established in 1992 and incorporated as a company limited by guarantee in 1994. It was granted charitable status for tax purposes by the Revenue Commissioners on 17 May 1995.
Fairtrade Ireland has three main activities: Fairtrade labelling, education to raise public awareness of Fairtrade, and supporting small-scale producers in the developing world to meet international Fairtrade standards.
Since 1996, work with businesses to promote the availability of Fairtrade certified products in Ireland has been the main activity of Fairtrade Ireland; in November that year Bewley’s Ltd imported the first two tonnes of Fairtrade certified coffee to Ireland. The Fairtrade Mark on a product is independent certification that it meets internationally agreed Fairtrade standards and that the farmer or worker who produce it receive a fair return for their work.
Fairtrade certified products are widely available in shops, restaurants and cafes throughout Ireland and in all the main supermarkets. The range of products continues to grow, and includes coffee, tea, sugar, bananas, chocolate, cocoa, confectionery, cosmetics, biscuits, fresh and dried fruit, cut flowers, ice cream, nuts, spices, fruit juice, honey, jams, rice, wine, oils, cotton and gold.
Irish consumers spent an estimated €197 million on Fairtrade certified products in 2013, an increase of 13 per cent on 2012. Particularly noteworthy in 2013 was growth of over 20% in sales of Fairtrade certified bananas and over 14 per cent in Fairtrade certified coffee. Also significant were Nestlé’s conversion of the two-finger Kit Kat and Irish Rail’s conversion of its coffee service to Fairtrade.
Public education and awareness-raising
As well as working with businesses, Fairtrade Ireland promotes public awareness of the Fairtrade Mark and the benefits of Fairtrade. This is done through Fairtrade towns, schools, colleges, universities and community groups.
Fairtrade Fortnight has been Fairtrade Ireland’s main awareness-raising initiative each year since 2002. Events during the Fortnight include visits by representatives of Fairtrade certified organisations in producer countries to schools, colleges, community groups, town and city councils, businesses and other organisations throughout the country.
A Eurobarometer survey (Eurobarometer 389), published in July 2012, showed a 78% awareness of the Fairtrade logo in Ireland, more than double the EU average! In 2013 research commissioned by Fairtrade International on consumer perceptions in 24 countries conducted by consultancy firm GlobeScan showed that familiarity with the Fairtrade mark in Ireland was 82%.
Producer support overseas
Fairtrade Ireland receives grants from Irish Aid, the Irish Government’s programme of assistance to developing countries, to assist small-scale producers in Central America (El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua) and East Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia) to improve their agricultural practices and to meet Fairtrade International (www.fairtrade.net) and UTZ Certified (www.utzcertified.org) sustainability standards. In the period 2006-2013, this support amounted to almost €20 million.