Fairtrade status for Aberystwyth University

Aberystwyth University today declared itself the UK’s 100th Fairtrade University.

The announcement solidifies Aberystwyth’s status as a Fairtrade town which it achieved in 2005. Since then Ceredigion has become a Fairtrade county and, in June last year, Wales became the world’s first
Fairtrade nation.

In order to become a Fairtrade university students and staff must make a commitment to supporting Fairtrade. This includes ensuring that
Fairtrade goods are available in on-site cafes, restaurants and shops, and raising awareness of Fairtrade and the benefits it brings to producers in developing countries. Towns, counties and nations have to demonstrate that they have met similar set criteria to qualify.

The Fairtrade Mark can only be displayed on products - like tea, coffee and bananas - that meet internationally recognised criteria. All products that display the mark are independently audited to ensure they're genuinely providing a fair deal for producers.

It’s the adoption of Fairtrade status by large institutions like the University, with serious buying power, that has a real effect on small farmers in the developing world. The goods, most of which are not produced by farmers in Wales, are bought direct from the farmers for a fair price rather than through exploitative multinational companies. The campaign is revolutionising farming practice and local communities in the developing world.


  1. Aberystwyth a Fairtrade town since 2005? You could have fooled me.

    I have no doubt that Fairtrade is a very good idea but sticking a label on towns counties and now universities . . . isn't all a bit meaningless? Take a walk around town and you will see that we are all as supportive of 'unfair trade' as we have always been. Unfortunately, labels change nothing.

    Can you, or your readers, produce a list of six practical ways I can support Fairtrade in Aberystwyth.

    By the way, I've not yet found a Fairtrade coffee that I like. Nescafe rules.

  2. The excellent Aberystwyth Fairtrade website (click on the phrase 'Aberystwyth's status as a Fairtrade town' in the article above) lists numerous practical ways of supporting Fairtrade, including comprehensive listings of shops and cafes selling Fairtrade products in the town, updated annually.

    To answer your point about it being meaningless, this is a passage from the website about the direct effect Fairtrade is having,

    "In 2006, Fairtrade sales amounted to more than £293M, an increase of 46% on 2005, making the UK Fairtrade market the largest in the world.
    There are now more than 2500 retail and catering Fairtrade products available compared to only 150 in 2003.

    "The Fairtrade premium from sales around the world currently delivers an extra $100M annually to producers and their families - more than 5M people in 58 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America."

  3. Dilys ParkinOctober 13, 2009

    Re Fairtrade Coffee- I like Yirgacheffe from the Mecca coffee shop- It's from Ethiopa and is certified Fairtrade.
    I can understand your cynicism ("we are all supportive of unfair trade") but many people doing small things do make a big difference. A cure for your cynicism would be to come and meet a Fairtrade producer- the town Fairtrade Group invite producers during FT fortnight usually February-March and we have in the past few years
    heard inspiring stories from the people who know first hand what a difference Fairtrade makes.

  4. I am happy to join others in welcoming the announcement that Aberystwyth University has achieved Fairtrade status. It is not ‘just a label’, but demonstrates a commitment to promote Fairtrade and to use products that have been fairly traded where these are available – there are now more than 3000 Fairtrade certified products in retail and catering sectors in the UK. These include cocoa, coffee, dried and fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, honey, juices, nuts/oil seeds/oil, quinoa, rice, spices, sugar, tea, wine, beauty products, cotton, cut flowers, ornamental plants and sports balls. It is far from being ‘meaningless’; Fairtrade provides all of us with the means to give poor producers, farmers and workers in developing countries, a guaranteed, sustainable livelihood and access to additional finance (the ‘Fairtrade Premium’) to develop their communities. Involvement in ‘unfair trade’ is, to a considerable degree, unavoidable but ’the label’ is changing the situation though not as quickly as many would like. Slavery was not abolished overnight (nor has it disappear from the world today as the exhibition in the arts centre starting in November – ‘Disposable People: Contemporary Global Slavery’ – sets out to show). In like manner, economic slavery in the developing world will not end overnight but Fairtrade is setting a standard that is a challenge to companies and a choice to shoppers.

    ‘Anon Aberystwyth’ asks for six practical ways to support Fairtrade in Aberystwyth. Here are eight suggestions, two extra in case some don’t apply.
    1. Search among the many Fairtrade coffees currently available for one that meets your discriminating taste. Even Nestlé has been driven by the success of Fairtrade to apply for and gain certification for ONE of its coffees – ‘Partners Blend’ available in Morrisons.
    2. Identify other products from developing countries in your shopping basket and, where Fairtrade certified are available, give serious consideration to buying them. If your shop or supermarket doesn’t stock them you can always ask – why not? And there are also other fairly traded products for which standards have not yet been agreed by FLO (the Fairtrade Labelling Organisation - www.fairtradenet.org) - that are available under the umbrella of World Fair Trade Organisation (www.wfto.com/) through various outlets including the British Association of Fairtrade Shops.
    3. Encourage your place of work to commit to supporting Fairtrade and to using Fairtrade products in the office, coffee room and vending machines.
    4. If you have or when you have children, include Fairtrade fruit, drinks and snacks in their lunchboxes as well as in your own.
    5. Tell your friends, member of the clubs or societies you belong to about the guaranteed benefits that Fairtrade is bringing to growing numbers of poor producers and their families around the world – now more than 7 million.
    6. Lobby multinational companies to obtain Fairtrade certification for those products that are sourced from developing countries and for which Fairtrade standards have been agreed by FLO. Grass roots pressure has contributed to Cadburys deciding to apply for Fairtrade certification for the popular Dairy Milk brand of chocolate.
    7. Join the Aberystwyth Fairtrade campaign group, Masnach Deg – Aberystwyth – Fairtrade so that you can make your own contribution to promoting Fairtrade and growing the demand for Fairtrade products in shops and cafés in Aberystwyth.
    8. Discover more ‘good reasons’ from reading the book ‘50 Reasons to Buy Fairtrade’ by Miles Litvinoff and John Madeley (2007). If you want something more substantial try ‘Fair Trade: Market-Driven Ethical Consumption’ by Dr Alex Nicholls and Charlotte Opal – it’s available from Aberystwyth’s town library.

    I’m encouraged that ‘Anon Aberystwyth’ has no doubt that Fairtrade is a good idea. But are you going to put this good idea into practice in your choices? As for everyone, the choice is yours!
    Arnold Smith,
    Masnach Deg – Aberystwyth – Fairtrade.

  5. Congratulations on attaining the FT University Status!

    We can offer the students a weekend full of Fair Trade activities at our International Youth for Fair Trade Conference for Free if they use the promo code FAIRTRADE when booking at: http://tr.im/y4ft2009

  6. Thank you Arnold, I'll try the Partners Blend the next time I'm in Morrisons.

    Just one question, if there are now 3000 Fairtrade certified products available why are so few on sale here in Aberystwyth? Last week I was on the look out for Fairtrade products. I found tea, coffee, chocolate and a small carton of fruit juice. Perhaps I shop in the wrong shops. The Aberystwyth Freetrade website does not seem to offer much more and I doubt if the Oxfam shop stocks all the products listed.

    I'll let you know what I think of the coffee.

  7. Anon Aberystwyth has questioned the availability of Fairtrade certified products in Aberystwyth. The figure I gave for the number of fairly traded products available in the UK includes what is available to the catering sector as well as what can be put on the shelves of shops and supermarkets. Which products are available through retail outlets is normally decided locally by small shops or centrally by the purchasing department in the case of the large retail chains. In both cases, retail outlets are responsive to customer demands. It has been reported that in supermarkets, a request by as few as a dozen people for a particular product carries significant weight. So if a particular Fairtrade certified product is not available from the supermarket, it’s down to us to ask for it to be stocked and THEN to buy it.
    The supply of Fairtrade food and drink in Aberystwyth is, to a certain extent, in a state of flux at the moment: the Co-op on the Waun has been taken over by CK’s (an unknown quantity as far as Fairtrade products are concerned), Somerfield is in the process of being transformed to a new Co-op store (Somerfield’s range of products is slowly being replaced by the Co-op’s) and the range of the Traidcraft brand of fairly traded products available from Oxfam has been reduced as a result of a central office policy decision (you can express your concern about this by writing to Oxfam Supporter Relations, Oxfam House, John Smith Drive, Cowley, Oxford. OX4 2JY). Steps have been taken to ensure that most of the products that have disappeared from the shelves at Oxfam are available from the Oasis Coffee bar at St Paul’s Methodist Centre that is normally open Monday to Friday from 11am to 1.30pm.
    The information available on the Aberystwyth group’s website (www.aberystwythfairtrade.org.uk) is based on an annual audit of shops and cafes. It is inevitable that changes in product availability will happen between audits. A printed directory would need to last for several years and by the end of its effective life could be really inaccurate.
    Arnold Smith,
    Masnach Deg - Aberystwyth - Fairtrade

  8. Thanks everyone. There have certainly been some high quality comments on this post.