This was a well attended panel discussion on the topic 'What’s the Real Cost of Food?' held on 5th March 2014 in London. It was organised by Trading Visions and SustainTalks at the Royal College of Art.

You can watch and listen to the panellists below.

Patrick Holden is the founding director of the Sustainable Food Trust whose mission is to promote international cooperation between all those involved in sustainable food production - not just those who are certified organic. Between 1995 and 2010, he was the director of the Soil Association.

Barbara Crowther is Director of Policy and Public Affairs for the Fairtrade Foundation, which is the UK member of the global standard setting and producer development non-profit organisation Fairtrade International.

Alistair Smith is international coordinator of Banana Link, set up in 1996 to campaign for a fair and sustainable banana trade.

Arthur Reeves is a food sector consultant. He spent much of his working life at Dairy Crest, the largest UK-owned dairy foods company. He held a number of senior roles at Dairy Crest, including Milk Purchasing Director and Corporate Affairs Director.

Trading Visions, in collaboration with the LSE International Development Department, held a well attended public discussion debate on Tuesday 1st March 2011. The topic was 'Has Fairtrade asked for enough?'.

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


Deborah Doane is Director of the World Development Movement, which campaigns for justice and equality for the world's poor. Deborah was a founder and trustee of AntiApathy, and recently joined the Board of the Fairtrade Foundation.

"From the mainstream players, I think Fairtrade can demand more, without losing them... because of the incredible power of the movement behind it." - Deborah Doane

Adam Brett co-founded Tropical Wholefoods, and is a director of Fullwell Mill. He has been a self employed entrepreneur since 1990, working on the development of fair trade food businesses in Uganda, Burkina Faso, Pakistan, Zanzibar and Zambia. He is a Trustee and Judge for the Ashden Awards for Renewable Energy.

"I think [supply chains] are absolutely destined to be inefficient, in an extraordinary way. And conventional economics - of ‘oh yes everything's going to work out, we're going to end up with a nice optimal situation where we're going to live in the best of all possible worlds’ - is completely childish! We actually have to grab our supply chains by the proverbial soft parts and squeeze, to make sure that they work as well as we can possibly make them work." - Adam Brett

Julia Clark is a consultant. As Head of Marketing at Tate & Lyle Sugars, she led the switch of the company’s entire retail sugar range to Fairtrade in 2008. At the time this was the largest ever commitment to Fairtrade by any major UK food or drink brand.

"The people at the bottom of the supply chain are not only disenfranchised and disempowered by the system, their own communities haven't taught them how to grasp opportunities and make much of those opportunities. They're small cane farmers because they don't know how to be anything else. And Fairtrade is starting to teach them how to be business people." - Julia Clark

Robin Murray is an industrial economist and a co-founder and board member of Twin Trading. Twin has established a number of pioneering producer-owned Fairtrade companies, notably Cafédirect, Divine Chocolate, Agrofair UK and Liberation Nuts.

"We're trying to create a different kind of economy. An economy not mediated by markets, but where markets are lodged within a reciprocal or mutual economy." - Robin Murray

Questions and Discussion

"We buy organic Fairtrade dried mangos for about 6 euros a kilo, when it gets to the shop it costs about 25 euros a kilo. So about 22% is going back to the producer. 65% goes straight into supermarkets' pockets." - Adam Brett

"The retail power [of supermarkets] is extraordinary - and it drags us all down with it." - Deborah Doane

The whole debate is also available as a podcast.

An early start today with a thermos of Oromo coffee to keep us awake for the long drive up to Leeds for the Fairtrade Schools conference. This was in the rather splendid surroundings of the Leeds Business School, a converted Victorian grammar school.

We met up with the mighty DGH, Divine Chocolate's resident chocolatier, who ran an excellent lunchtime cookery workshop at the refectory. He was supported by special guest Carl, from the Ministry of Chocolate. They were two chocolatiers on a mission!

We kicked off May 2009 with a City of London May Day event organised by Trading Visions, Justshare and the Fairtrade London Campaign.

Crowds and stalls celebrating May Day. Credit: Phil Clark-Hill

It was a perfect sunny afternoon to fly the Fairtrade flag and we made a real statement by setting up our stands in the heart of the City – right at the steps of the Royal Exchange!

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.