Today was the first day of the above mentioned international conference. Roughly 240 participants from different industry sectors, along with a number of green activists, such as Möbelmacher founder Herwig Danzer and Ecoworld Publisher Frith Lietsch are among the participants.
From an FAIRtrade perspective, the discussion panel on “Challenging Greenwashing and verifying sustainability” was the most interessting aspect. Sabine Peters-Halfbrodt, Kraft Foods, talked about, how Kraft Foods has build a cooperation with Rainforest Alliance. They have increased their volume of Rainforest Alliance coffee from 2500 tons in 2005 up to 30.000 tons in 2008. Of course, this is still only a small percentage of Krafts coffee production (Kraft owns brands such as Jacobs, Yuban, Kenco and many more) as was pointed out during the discussion.They also deliver this certified Coffee to all McCafé’s. I think the good news is, that by now, all big global players have understood the importance of Fairtrade, as one dimension of sustainability, for the consumers and start to give more focus to this topic.
Another interesting discussion was on labels. There was a desire to have one global standard label, which of course would be great, but makes the process of agreeing and maintaining a standard extremely slow and complicated. Still, there are definitely too many labels, also in FAIRrade, some of which, such as the Rainforest Alliance have sort of a FAIRtrade standard, however there label is way below the FAIRtrade criteria. This is very confusing for us, the consumers, as it is hard to tell, what we buy. This was discussed a lot! I really don’t see, why we need now company specific FAIRtrade labels on top of the Transfair label and the criterias of the One-World-Shops. This does only make things more complicated.
One participant told me today, that he would desire a system, where you find information about the performance on sustainability of a product, just the same way, as companies have to show the ingredients in a product. This, I think is the right way to approach this. This would really help all of us, to base our decisions on facts.
I would be interested in your thoughts and comments!