A coffee break with...

A coffee break with...

What does your job typically entail?

I work with a range of tea, coffee and foodservice businesses to support them with their Fairtrade commitments. My job is really varied but typically involves providing resources to help businesses talk about Fairtrade to their staff and customers, and helping them understand the impact they can make by buying Fairtrade tea and coffee.

Because Fairtrade provides both the stability of a minimum price, or market price if higher, and an extra sum, the Fairtrade premium, farmers are able to invest in businesses and community projects of their choice, and it really is incredibly inspiring to see what a difference this makes. I can help businesses to tell the stories of communities that have become more successful thanks to Fairtrade sales, so that consumers can understand more about producers, and feel good about the difference they make when they buy Fairtrade.

How did you get into the industry?
I’ve been working in the foodservice sector since graduating from university. My first job was at the Sustainable Restaurant Association, where I worked with members to assess and rate their sustainability practices, then provided guidance on how to improve these, which was great experience for Fairtrade. When I joined Fairtrade’s out of home team a few years ago I began to focus on ethical trade. 

What’s your favourite part of your working day? 
I love the fact that my role allows me to work across so many areas within Fairtrade – from marketing, campaigns and communications through to research and advocacy, as well as the technical side of supply chains and impact. However, learning about the impact that Fairtrade is making is the most enjoyable part and incredibly inspiring.

Last year, in what was a career highlight, I was lucky enough to visit some tea plantations in south India, meeting producers and visiting some innovative projects such as Chamraj School, where I saw that, thanks to the Fairtrade Premium, students are benefiting from better resources and computer labs.

And your least favourite?
Over the years, thanks to Fairtrade commitments from business, much has improved for farmers and workers in developing countries, but the majority, who sell to conventional markets, are struggling to make ends meet. It is incredibly unfair that cocoa farmers in Côte d’Ivôire, for example, are scraping by on as little as 75p per day. We all deserve to make a decent living from our hard work, and we could deliver so much more for farmers and workers if the entire sector switched to sourcing Fairtrade.

What’s your favourite food and beverage?
Great question – pretty much everything! I love cooking for friends and recently have been trying to practice more Israeli dishes, working my way through various Ottolenghi cookbooks. I also really like Spanish cuisine – I love the tapas culture, and the dishes can be simple and yet so delicious. To drink, it would have to be coffee – Fairtrade of course!

And your least favourite?

I’ve never been the biggest fan of shellfish, despite growing up on the south coast!

What is the biggest factor currently affecting the industry?

From my perspective, the industry needs to step up its sustainability efforts. For example, in coffee-producing countries, farmers are facing a range of complex challenges, such as volatile market prices, climate change, rising farm and household costs, which all threaten the future supply of one of our favourite drinks. At the other end of the supply chain, there are other certifiers or sourcing models that suppliers offer, so it is important that staff and customers understand what makes Fairtrade unique and, through offering Fairtrade products, how they are helping farmers get a better deal.

What one piece of advice would you offer someone working in the industry?
Get in touch! If you’re serving Fairtrade products, or would like to start doing so, I’d love to be able to help you talk about it to your staff and customers. We’ve got some fantastic resources to share, and you can get involved in our action-packed campaigns such as Fairtrade Fortnight too, so please drop us a note on [email protected]