Australia’s Fairtrade growth the fastest in the world

Campaigns and Advocacy, Media Releases article written on the 26 Apr 2007

Australia’s growth in Fairtrade products such as coffee is ranked the fastest in the world with sales up at least 50 per cent on last year to $8 million, according to Oxfam Australia as Fairtrade fortnight kicks off.
Executive Director of Oxfam Australia, Andrew Hewett said Australia’s Fairtrade market growth was tremendously good news for Fairtrade farmers in developing countries, their families and communities whose lives and livelihoods improved as a result. ‘The Fairtrade market in Australia is booming. And that means Fairtrade farmers can sell their coffee, tea and cocoa to Australian importers at a decent price.’
Growing demand from consumers who wish to shop ethically has fuelled massive market growth in Fairtrade products in Australia. According to Oxfam, in 2003 the total value of Australia’s Fairtrade retail sales was a paltry $146,000. But today, just three years later, the market has grown enormously and is worth at least $8 million.
The rate of Fairtrade product growth has rocketed partly as a result of Australian shopping mall giant Coles as well as Australian-owned coffee chain Hudson who stock Fairtrade products. In addition Origin Energy, Orica and Lonely Planet make Fairtrade coffee and tea available in their offices Australia-wide.
‘Fairtrade products are becoming big business in Australia with mass market appeal. The consumer is getting a quality product as well as the satisfaction that their purchase is helping to eradicate human poverty in developing countries around the world,’ Mr Hewett said.
Meanwhile in a move applauded by Oxfam Australia as an important step in helping to eradicate human poverty, the Fairtrade Labelling Organisation announced it was doubling the premium it pays to Fairtrade coffee cooperatives to 12 cents per pound for all Fairtrade coffee. This is the premium paid by the Fairtrade Labelling Organisation to be invested by Fairtrade cooperatives in community projects aimed to help lift people out of poverty. Projects include health care and education, roads as well as basic infrastructure such as access to clean water and sanitation.
Mr Hewett commended the decision by the Fairtrade Labelling Organisation to double the premium paid to Fairtrade coffee cooperatives. ‘This means a doubling of income able to be used for community development and poverty eradication. It’s good news for Fairtrade coffee framers everywhere.’
To mark Fairtrade Fortnight, Oxfam Australia has invited Costa Rican coffee farmer, Guillermo Vargas to deliver a series of Australia-wide lectures on the positive impacts of fairtrade on his community in the north pacific region of Costa Rica.
Guillermo Vargas has worked with a cooperative of local coffee farmers since 1997. Today the cooperative works with 84 local coffee growers who produce and sell their beans at Fairtrade prices. Having worked for many years as the cooperative’s General Manager, Vargas speaks highly of Fairtrade and the benefits it has afforded vulnerable people whose lives and wellbeing have been transformed as a result of being able to make a decent living from trade. ‘When I think of Fairtrade, I think fair for the producer and fair for the consumer.’
Fairtrade Fortnight (28 April – 13 May) – the biggest event promoting Fairtrade in Australia is now on. To learn first-hand how Fairtrade has benefited farming communities around the world, Costa Rican coffee farmer Guillermo Vargas talks at a series of Fairtrade events and lectures across the country.
For a full list of Australian events at which Guillermo Vargas is speaking visit
For more information or to arrange an interview with Andrew Hewett or Guillermo Vargas call
Ian Woolverton on 0409 181 454