I’ve always felt that the real mark of success for Fairtrade, and particularly Fairtrade chocolate, would be if an existing and successful brand was “converted” to Fairtrade – mainly so that the product would be a great chocolate bar first, and Fairtrade as it happens. But I wasn’t going to hold my breath in this age of Capitalism Supreme.
So I was pleasantly surprised when I walked into my local Co-op on Saturday, and saw a bar of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk bearing the Fairtrade logo!
Firstly, note that I have nothing against existing “niche” Fairtrade products like Divine, and the Co-op’s own brand chocolate bars. But if Fairtrade is genuinely such a Good Thing, it shouldn’t need to be niche. Choice is great and all that, but either the Free Trade devotees are right, and the right ideas will naturally spread through the market; or they’re wrong, and important social improvements should not be left to the choice of consumers.
Secondly, I know that Fairtrade is not perfect, and some say it can actually do more harm than good – and they may well be right, economics is a hot-bed for unintended consequences. But I am pretty sure it’s a better approach to trade than “make as much money as you can, and then a bit more!”
And finally, I suppose it’s no surprise that it’s Cadbury’s that’s the first to make such a move – they were founded by Quakers, and bought Green & Black’s to get into the Organic niche. But it’s still refreshing to see them make the first move with their flagship brand, rather than just testing the water with yet another niche brand.