Who Owns Fairtrade?

Trading Visions, in collaboration with the LSE Centre for Civil Society, held a well attended public discussion debate on Tuesday 24th February 2009. The topic was 'Who Owns Fairtrade?'

Some of the themes explored included:
• the contradictions of fair trade being a consumer brand as well as a movement;
• the fact that ownership can be claimed by such a wide range of stakeholders, from Fairtrade schools to Sainsbury;
• the contrast between the rigours of certification for small scale producers and the ease of involvement for large corporations;
• the ideal and reality of the fair trade partnership along the value chain.

You can watch and listen to the panellists and the discussion below.


Kate Sebag

Kate is co-founder of Tropical Wholefoods and has also worked in Uganda developing fair trade fruit drying. Tropical Wholefoods is based in a Soil Association certified factory in Sunderland, and produces snacks, foods and natural soaps.

Rajah Banerjee

Rajah is a tea plantation owner, his life’s work has been to convert the Fairtrade certified Makaibari Tea Estate in Darjeeling to organic permaculture, with tea bushes integrated into a wider subtropical forest ecosystem.

Katie Stafford
Katie is a sustainability consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. She was previously at Marks & Spencer, where she worked on the launch of Fairtrade cotton products and the move to Fairtrade coffee.

Dyborn Charlie Chibonga
Dyborn is CEO of the National Smallholder Farmers’ Association of Malawi, which represents over 100,000 small scale farmers. He also serves on the board of the International Nut Cooperative which is selling Fairtrade nuts under its own UK brand, Liberation.

Pauline Tiffen
Pauline is an independent consultant focused on helping small-scale producers in Africa and Latin America profit from the international marketplace. She is a founder of two Fairtrade companies, Cafédirect and Divine Chocolate.

Questions and Discussion

The whole debate is available as a podcast.

You can also listen to the panellists talking to Peter Day on BBC World Service's Global Business programme.

There's a great discussion taking up this theme at the fair trade pages on Change.org.

Have your say


I think the existing Fairtrade Labelling initiative has achieved more than anything else in the 'fair trade' space as far as retailers are concerned. I believe the best way to help 'level the playing field' is to work with the producers, to help them retain as much of the value of their harvest as they can, just the same way dairy farmers have to in europe, and have moved up the value chain over time. So, products like Malagasy chocolate made in Madascar seem like a useful step for that community.

Fantastic debate! We definitely need more healthy forums for discussions like these.

I'd like to embed this into some blogs that I am working on around the question 'What is Fair Trade.' Is there any way that you can post these individual videos to your tradingvisions page on you tube?

Thank you!