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Good cuppa remedies grower rip-offs

Good cuppa remedies grower rip-offs


Auckland, 26 April 2006 – Fair Trade advocate Sarah Scarborough is urging New Zealanders to brew a good cuppa to help stop millions of desperately poor Third World workers from being ripped off.

She says Fair Trade Fortnight 2006, which starts this Saturday, is a timely reminder for New Zealanders to think about how their choice of staple supermarket products, like tea and coffee, impacts the lives of millions of impoverished workers.

But she says before people put the jug on they should take a close look at the tea and coffee in their kitchen cupboards, for fear of being an unwitting last link in a chain of events that started with a grower being ripped off.

Scarborough, who is the first operator to get fair trade tea and coffee into supermarkets across Australasia, says in a country where Fair Go is one of the highest rating TV shows, many New Zealanders will be disturbed to know that the wages of more than one million tea workers on the Indian sub-continent average less than $3 a day.

“It’s just not fair. A good cuppa needn’t take the shirt from the back of a Third World worker,” says Scarborough.

Fair trade makes sure growers get paid fairly, by charging importers of their produce a price that is higher than low world commodity prices. Fair trade certified products bare a fair trade logo, authorised by the Fair Trade Labelling Organisation (FLO), who ensures a premium is paid to growers.

But Scarborough says that until recently it has been difficult for New Zealanders to support fair trade because products have been too hard to find and expensive. “Anyone with an interest in fair trade has had to shop in specialty food stores and then pay through the nose for the privilege.”

She says the situation ends up making very little difference to growers in developing countries simply because not enough fair trade products are sold.

Auckland-based Scarborough and her business partners last year launched fair trade umbrella brand Scarborough Fair, getting tea and coffee into 1,600 supermarkets, including Progressive Enterprises stores Foodtown, Woolworths and Countdown, New World, and Coles Myer and Woolworths in Australia.

“Mainstreaming fair trade is the only way for it to truly make a difference. Good intentions don’t change things, good business does. As long as fair trade remains expensive and hard to find, it remains just a good idea,” says Scarborough.

The spotlight on fairer global trade has mostly come from criticism voiced by Third World countries, who say many of their richer trading partners use size and economic power to keep commodity prices unsustainably low. The people at the start of the chain – the growers and their workers – suffer the most and are often forced into a life of grinding poverty, because they are not fairly rewarded for their work.

Coffee, the world’s second most traded commodity, generates more income than any other unfinished product, except oil. Small farmers make up most of the world’s 25 million coffee producers, but typically receive the smallest proportion of the industry’s profits.

“It’s time for New Zealanders to play their part and put shirts onto the backs of the people who deserve them.” says Scarborough. “Brewing the right cuppa is a good place to start.”

ENDS

Notes to editor

Scarborough Fair sources its tea from Idulgashinna organic bio tea plantation, in Sri Lanka. Plantation representative Rajaratnam (Raj) Gnanasekeran will be in Auckland and Wellington, between 11-14 May, to promote fair trade. Gnanasekeran holds overall responsibility for the management of organic fair trade tea production and the plantation's social development programme. He’s worked in both fair trade and non-fair trade environments and can report on the stark differences between these approaches to trade. Mr Gnanasekeran speaks fluent English and he has presented at various international forums on fair trade.

About Scarborough Fair. Scarborough Fair offers a range of Fair Trade certified products in Australasia. Auckland company Lighthouse Ventures Ltd owns the Scarborough Fair brand and has Trade Marks pending in all major markets.

About Sarah Scarborough. Sarah Scarborough is a Fair Trade activist and adventurer. Finnish American, she came to New Zealand on a Rotary scholarship to complete a Master’s program in Development Studies at the University of Auckland. She is the inspiration for and partner in Scarborough Fair. Sarah’s personal quest for fairness and sustainability has led her on adventures to rainforests in Costa Rica, tropical gardens in the South Pacific, and organic gardens in Montana and California. In Alaska she started Fair Trade Teas, sourcing teas and cocoa from communities around the world who received a fair price for their crops, thus enabling them to afford a sustainable lifestyle. Sarah has recently returned from Sri Lanka and Ghana, where she investigated fair trade practices and the benefits to community

About Fair Trade. Fair Trade is about playing fair and sharing. It is a basic principle which is taught to children everywhere. Fair Trade certification, monitored by the international Fair Trade Labelling Organization (FLO) ensures a better quality of life for agricultural producers in developing areas like Sri Lanka, India and Latin America, for products like tea, coffee, bananas and cotton. By working towards economic, social and environmental sustainability, FLO aims to create a brighter future.

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