Claims by an Australian rightwing think tank that Oxfam Australia was misleading the public for claiming Fairtrade Coffee helped lift some of the world’s poorest coffee farmers out of poverty have been dismissed by the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC).
The ACCC stated in a letter to Oxfam, ‘In general terms, the assessment [of the ACCC] is that at this time, the matter does not raise particular concerns under the [Trade Practices] Act such that this office should pursue it.’
‘We’re pleased with the ACCC’s decision. It vindicates thousands of Australian consumers and millions worldwide who choose Fairtrade products knowing they help poor farmers trade their way out of poverty,’ said Executive Director of Oxfam Australia, Andrew Hewett.
Australia’s growth in Fairtrade products such as coffee is one of the world’s fastest. Sales are up at least 50 per cent on last year to approximately $8 million, partly as a result of Australian shopping mall giant Coles as well as Australian-owned coffee chain Hudson who stock Fairtrade products, as does Oxfam. In addition companies such as Origin Energy, Orica and Lonely Planet make Fairtrade coffee and tea available in their offices Australia-wide.
The term Fairtrade, which is protected and regulated by the Fairtrade Labeling Organisation, refers to an independently audited product certification and labelling system that ensures those who grow and produce coffee get a fair go. It does this by:
• Paying farmers a fair price for their product
• Helping them gain skills and knowledge to develop their businesses in the global economy
• Providing a certification and labelling system to ensure Fairtrade standards are met and that the benefits of Fairtrade get back to the farmer who produced the product
Fairtrade also means farmers and communities can:
• Use improved environmental methods
• Establish democratic associations or co-operatives to start local community development projects from the proceeds of Fairtrade
• Have access to low-cost credit and technical assistance
• Receive a social premium that supports community projects
‘Fairtrade benefits poor farmers. Oxfam encourages Australians everywhere to purchase Fairtrade products to help make a difference to the lives of some of the world’s poorest farmers,’ Mr Hewett added.
For more information or to arrange an interview with Andrew Hewett call Ian Woolverton on 0409 181 454