07 December 2009

Kit-Kat Goes Fairtrade

Kit-Kat Goes Fairtrade

Fairtrade has just announced that Kit-Kat, the massive brand of Nestlé in the UK, is switching its cocoa over to Fairtrade.  This will start in mid January 2010 and is obviously a reaction to Cadbury's Dairy Milk going Fairtrade in Summer 2009.  See press release.

That's great news for the Fairtrade movement and cocoa farmers. 

However, I am sure that many fairtrade compaigners and ethical entrepreneurs will be bemused, and have quite a lot to say, that Fairtrade has become so mainstream that Nestlé, often regarded as the devil incarnate, should be embraced so closely by Fairtrade.

It will be good news in terms of cash, but it probably means that small businesses like Steenbergs will become ever more marginalised within Fairtrade as we become regarded as irritable fleas upon the greater ethical system, and (horror of horrors) views and opinions on Fairtrade.  Internal systems will be devised to meet the requirements of big business, rather than being entrepreneurial in its structure, so discriminating against smaller UK manufacturers; but does that matter if producers in the developing world are benefitting from the extra cash - probably not as long as the influence of the large brands and multiples does not start to dilute down the principles of Fairtrade and/or the rake off of the Fairtrade premium to the producers.

We shall plough on regardless, however.  Maybe, there could be a system more focused on smaller family-owned enterprises in the UK that target the independent sectors, rather than the major multiples, but ideally such an initiative would be within the wider Fairtrade framework enabling it to nurture newer ethical brands.