bees, honey and other sticky subjects

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Unfair Fairtrade?

We're midway through Fairtrade Fortnight and Rufus of That's How it Happened has made an interesting comment on my earlier Fairtrade post:
I had a feeling that both the Adam Smith Institute and George Monbiot were opposed to “Fairtrade”. I can't really see the point of creating an artificial honey price. Unlike other agricultural products home grown honey isn't the recipient of big EU subsidies.
He has a point, but I suspect that Fairtrade is doing more than giving producers a decent price for their honey -- it also seems to be providing a framework to get honey production and marketing moving in developing countries. There seems to be a degree of collaboration between Fairtrade and other organisations like Shared Interest (providing reasonable interest loans to encourage enterprise).

I have heard it argued that Fairtrade is effectively supporting the richer enterprises in developing countries, but Fairtrade vigorously denies this.

In any event, I suspect that the biggest global producer of honey, China, effectively sets an artificially (low) honey price abetted by the use of some curious practices (see here and here).

Meanwhile, in the UK it appears that all locally-produced honey finds a market -- and in fact you could argue that hobbyist beekeepers are artificially deflating prices of British honey by selling at well below the real production cost (ask any of the few commercial beefarmers in the UK!).

So, in a world of decidedly unfair trade and with the wealthiest nations adopting policies that don't even approximate to free trade, I'll back the Fairtrade movement when I can. When all is said and done, it's the consumer's choice to support Fairtrade operations.


Blogger Rufus said...

Congratulations on the new domain name!
I know that the "production cost" of my honey in the first year was at least £10 per 1lb jar, and that doesn't factor in my time as an expense. Having just purchased a second hive I suppose it won't get mush cheaper this season.
PS any advice on where and when to purchase a second quuen?

5:34 pm  

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