This recession has had me pretty bummed out, with the constant bombardment of doom and gloom. Want some good news? Worldwide fair trade sales were up 22% in 2008! This according to a recent announcement by the Fairtrade Foundation, an independent non-profit organization based in the UK that certifies fair trade products sold in Britian. Their report looked at global growth of fair trade sales and found the majority of increase in sales was in fair trade tea (up 112%), fair trade coffee (up 14%) and fair trade bananas (up 28%).
A number of developed nations saw fair trade sales increase by more than 50%, including Canada where fair trade grew by 67%. The US saw slower growth of just 10% but in total sales we still remain one of the largest markets for fair trade products.
Here at Bambootique I’ve seen sales so far in 2009 increase 25% over 2008’s sales, a surprising figure given the focus on low-price during this economic crisis. In order to keep paying my artisans fair and living wages I haven’t slashed my prices, haven’t had big sales, and yet customers are still coming back. My experience at Bambootique reflects the encouraging worldwide trend towards greater consumer awareness and action even during difficult times. Artisans and farmers in the developing world need fair trade more than ever. When we feel the pinch here, they feel an unbearable squeeze as whatever economic opportunities there were dry up completely.
I want to offer a heartfelt thank you to each of you who go out of your way to shop for fair trade products, whether from me or from elsewhere. It’s during these hard times that our true priorities and beliefs shine through. Thank you for believing that you can make a difference in the lives of others, even in the small choices you make every day.