Recent years have seen an increase in consumer demand for ethical products that help producers and farmers in the developing world. You could meet this demand by offering a selection of Fairtrade products such as teas, coffees, fruit juices, fresh fruit and snack bars from the large range of food and drinks available. This would show your customers that your business is ethically aware and committed to fighting global poverty. Offering Fairtrade products can also be a good way of differentiating your business from its competitors.
What is Fairtrade
Fairtrade guarantees a fair deal for producers and farmers in the developing world by making sure they receive a fair price for their goods and products. Fairtrade items are generally slightly more expensive than similar products - but more and more consumers are happy to pay a little extra to help producers become self-sufficient. All Fairtrade products are marked with the easy to identify Fairtrade Mark and there's a huge range available.
How does it work
The Fairtrade system works by paying producers a set minimum price for their goods, giving them a living wage. On top of this, producers also get an extra sum of money to invest in their business or community. This is called the 'social premium'.
In return, Fairtrade producers must meet certain standards. These are set by Fairtrade International. As a sandwich bar it's unlikely that you'll deal directly with producers - you'll probably purchase your Fairtrade goods from a UK supplier.
Sandwich bars that sell food and drinks which already carry the Fairtrade Mark don't need to be licensed by the Fairtrade Foundation. But if you plan to use the Fairtrade Mark in any of your advertising you'll need to have it approved by the Foundation.
Where to get Fairtrade goods
Only licensees, such as manufacturers and importers that are registered with the Fairtrade Foundation can apply the Fairtrade Mark to a product. You'll probably purchase your Fairtrade marked goods from a registered wholesaler or catering distributor in the UK. More and more suppliers are offering Fairtrade products so it's worth asking your current suppliers if they have a Fairtrade range available. The Fairtrade Foundation website has a list of registered wholesalers and catering distributors that sell Fairtrade marked products to the food service industry throughout the UK.
When you buy Fairtrade certified food and drink products from a registered wholesaler or catering distributor, you can probably expect to pay a little more than you normally would for similar products. The slightly higher trade prices cover the set price and social premium that are paid to the farmer or producer, as well as supply chain costs and the cost of certification and product licensing.
Although trade prices for Fairtrade products are higher, you can probably charge your customers a little bit more for them. You may benefit from extra sales, too. The Fairtrade Foundation isn't involved in setting retail prices, so the mark-up you add is entirely up to you. While you'll want to cover your costs and retain a healthy profit margin bear in mind the purpose and aims of the Fairtrade movement when you set your prices. The Fairtrade Foundation makes it clear that profit margins on Fairtrade items shouldn't be higher than on similar products.
Promoting Fairtrade goods
Offering Fairtrade products can be an attractive selling point for your sandwich bar and can help to attract new ethically aware customers - so it's important to make sure that potential customers know about the Fairtrade products you offer.
The Fairtrade Foundation is responsible for promoting Fairtrade in the UK and can provide useful materials and advice to help you to advertise your Fairtrade products. Any materials that include the Fairtrade Mark, such as menus or promotional posters, must be approved by the Foundation.
The Fairtrade Foundation organises a Fairtrade Fortnight each year to promote the Fairtrade system. This could be a good time for you to raise awareness of the Fairtrade food and drinks you offer. For example, perhaps you could run a Fairtrade tasting evening or have leaflets printed promoting the benefits of Fairtrade and highlighting the Fairtrade food and drinks you serve.
Where to find out more
The Fairtrade Foundation is part of the international Fairtrade movement and oversees all aspects of Fairtrade in the UK. For more information on Fairtrade, the range of products available and how you can get involved visit the Fairtrade Foundation website.