Policing the "Fair Trade" Supply Chain

Frequent Spend Matters readers already know my view on "fair trade" products. Personally, I think the entire "fair trade" game is a marketing ploy -- AKA, an emotional tariff -- designed to entice yuppies to pay more for products that they'll feel less guilty about buying without offering any advantage in quality (other than helping them rest their Yoga sculpted, left-leaning buttocks a bit easier in the Connolly leather seats of their Range Rovers as they cruise down the freeway, getting 15 MPG at best). Further evidence of this perspective comes from a recent BBC story that investigated a "fair trade" fruit supplier and found that fair trade in practice is a load of rubbish.

According to the an article on the news, "The BBC recently planted microphones in a factory belonging to Pratt's Banana's in Luton, near London ... Listeners to the BBC's Today programme this morning heard supervisors apparently verbally abusing migrant workers and tales of pregnant, diabetic and other staff being forced to work under appalling conditions." Now given the fact that is the BBC, I'd say we must discount this report with a grain of non-fairly traded salt (in my view, the BBC does even less to hide its politics than Fox News). But still, it's another scathing indictment of a marketing gimmick that some of the most intelligent people that I know fall for every day.

Jason Busch

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