Looking for the label?
The dust hasn’t yet settled on the SOAS report which exposed worrying flaws in Fairtrade certification. I’m still digesting the various reports and responses, so more on that in a future post. Shortly after the report was released, the Guardian issued a poll asking if people still trusted ethical labels. A whopping 68% said they didn’t. Here’s one of the comments: “I never trusted ethical labels in the first place. I always assumed that the people behind them were a bunch of greedy liars. Good to see I was proved right.”
Even if you don’t feel as strongly as this commentator, perhaps, like me, you’d appreciate greater explanation of what the various labels mean. This analysis is really useful in comparing different fair trade labelling – and I was interested to read that the Fair for Life label which some of our Zotter chocolate carries, is deemed to be the best.
As mentioned before, much of what we sell at Eighteen Rabbit can’t carry an ethical or fairtrade label. There isn’t yet a suitable system in place for crafts, or at least not for the small scale producers we work with. But if there was, I wonder if it would appeal to our customers. It seems that certification for what we might consider as ‘simple’ products such as coffee, chocolate and bananas is fraught with difficulty, so how could we go about creating a label for products which involve several materials? And how would the tiny producer groups that we work with be able to fund the certification process? Are customers looking for the reassurance of a label, or for transparent information about who produced the goods and how?
We’ve tried to explain the sourcing of our products through the stories of those making them. For example, Just Trade (our fab new jewellery supplier) tell you who made the product and where on the back of the packaging. Our new Cards from Africa (in store only) are hand signed by the maker, and their website contains oodles of information about their fair trade policies. We hope that this gives you all the reassurances you need, but we do welcome your feedback.