Sunday, October 18, 2009

Fairtrade for whom, exactly?

In principle, I'm completely sold on the concept of fairtrade, of paying a little bit more to give farmers a bigger piece of the pie, which puts me smack dab in the middle of the market segment undoubtedly labeled "Gullible - will buy any damn thing".

Case in point, we bought some "Farmer's Fairtrade Orange Juice" recently. The Fairtrade" label was prominently featured on the carton, together with the slogan "The Fairtrade logo - your best guarantee for a good deal".

Now I grant you - getting good orange juice isn't that easy in Norway. Save for fresh squeezed or the Tropicana label, it's mostly bitter, watered-down concentrates. However, I've never tasted an orange juice nearly as vile as the crap which supposedly offers me the best possible deal, both with respect to me as a customer and the percentage given to the farmers.

Orange juice is just that, so how is it possible to make such a crap product? There are basically three possibilities: 1) The farmers associated with Fairtrade absolutely suck at their profession and as such don't deserve a larger piece of the pie than given by major labels. 2) Knowing that some people are gullible enough to purchase a product on the premise of a better deal for farmers in some third-world country, some very cynical distributors take second- or third-rate raw material - in this case oranges - and makes a clearly inferior product. 3) The production plants asociated with Fairtrade are staffed with bottom-of-the-barrel staff that couldn't get a job elsewhere, likely for lower wages.

Either way, there's absolutely no excuse for peddling inferior products under the Fairtrade label. Don't even get me started on the battery acid and antifreeze mixture sold under the label "Ubuntu Cola".


Anders said...

Yeah, I don't think the Fairtrade is gonna pan out if they don't offer a certain level of quality from the premium they charge.

Btw: LOL to the new "slogan" for the blog...

Wilhelm said...

I'm kinda' ticked off that they're trying to pull the wool over consumers' eyes by playing to their sense of justice/charity/whatever and then delivering what's essentially a vastly inferior product.

Anders said...

Excatly. You just said it so much better then me.