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In the harbor of justice

It was once a whole city that would be decent.


[trade] Bruce Crowther was frustrated. He volunteered to increase the sales of fair trade products in the small town of Garstang in Northern England. It went bad. Suddenly he got an idea. He invited to dinner party. Representatives of the city council, the church, the school, the trade fair and the local newspaper showed up and got a meal prepared by fair goods. He had found "a magic formula," Crowther says himself. The atmosphere around the dinner table was good.

After the meal, no one was allowed to donate money. By contrast, dinner guests initiated a conversation that resulted in Garstang being declared the first Fairtrade city in the world one year later, in 2001.

The UK is at the top of the podium in the fair trade competition. Every citizen knows what the Fairtrade logo stands for. Last year, Fairtrade products were sold for around £ 200 million, and sales increase by about 40 percent each year. More than 1500 different products are available, most of them based on ingredients such as coffee, chocolate and bananas, but gradually more and more finished products such as clothing and football are coming.

Get rid of the hippie image

"There is no doubt that Fairtrade cities have played a crucial role in making fair trade a success in the UK," said Bruce Crowther, who now works for The Fairtrade Foundation. Crowther believes they have managed to move Fairtrade from the batik shirt-fluttering alternative to the hip mainstream, among other things by being able to offer a wide selection of different coffees. This is also how the myth that Fairtrade products are expensive and do not taste good has been shattered, he believes.

Ethical trade came on the top-ten list when Paal Furre, director of trend and future studies in Opinion compiled his list of trends that will dominate in 2006. This week, the Foundation Idébanken organized a dialogue workshop in Oslo on fair trade cities / municipalities .

- If we look at ourselves as individual consumers, it is easy to think that it probably has nothing to do with how I shop. But if you get the whole community involved, you get the feeling of being part of something bigger than yourself, says Mari Sager, future creator at Idébanken.

To be able to adorn the title Fairtrade-city, the city council must make a decision to support fair trade. Fairtrade products must be available in the canteen in both the City Hall and the cornerstone companies. Of course, local coffee shops, cafeterias and colonial shops must have a wide selection. And the school, the church, the city council and the business community must meet regularly to talk about how the city can get its citizens to act as fair as possible when acting as consumers.

But is it the individual consumer's choice that will do the trick? No, says Runar Døving at the State Institute for Consumer Research (SIFO).

- Fair trade has poor conditions at a lower level than the EU. Addressing the individual consumer directly is inefficient. You can not change the world by addressing the consumer. Consumers are not a group that organizes itself. The political consumer is wishful thinking from non-profit organizations. But if the municipalities buy Fairtrade products, it will help, says Døving.

Norway at the back of the trail

The Fairtrade brand goes in Norway under the name Max Havelaar and had sales of NOK 50 million in 2005. 30-40 products are offered. Why is Norway lagging behind?

- It is difficult to say what we could have done differently. We would like to see greater demand, but have limited funds. This is a tough battle, the support from the authorities is far greater in other countries, says Ragnhild Hammer in Max Havelaar.

- In addition, the British Church has been very active. The congregations have been encouraged to save on the cash slips, which were collected at the end of the month. Then they were handed over to the manager of the local supermarket, with the message that if you do not carry Fairtrade products, we will start shopping elsewhere. Thus, the grocery chains have begun to compete to be the best at Fairtrade, she says.

Hammer does not agree with Deaf's analysis.

- A year ago, NRK Forbrukerinspekterene had a report on Fairtrade bananas from the Dominican Republic. The program helped to quadruple banana sales in a short time. But we see that this is a complex picture, says Hammer.

Unclear labeling

In February, BedreHandel launched the respect-inside coding system in Norway. This labeling scheme is referred to as "the DNA of the goods". It tracks the goods throughout the entire production chain from raw material production and through further processing in factories. While Max Havelaar focuses on raw materials, Better Trade focuses on textiles and industrial products.

- This is not for an idealistic church. Quality and design must be good. We want to run a store and change the world at the same time, says Nicolai Herlofson in BedreHandel.

Several branding schemes can be problematic, says Ragnhild Hammer in Max Havelaar.

- We guarantee raw material production. It is a more difficult job to certify factories. In addition, the industry is trying, by making its own brands that are not real, which, for example, do not have a minimum wage guarantee. There is a rapid development in this field, and we are open to cooperation, as long as it contributes to real fair trade. The goal is for us to become redundant, says Ragnhild Hammer.

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