Sustainability Seminar Series: The end of Fair Trade as we know it?
The end of Fair Trade as we know it?
In many countries in Europe, fair trade is now thoroughly and fully mainstreamed. Major corporations such as Nestle and Cadbury’s have actually turned two of their globally recognized brands over to fair trade. In addition, many universities and other institutions have made decisions to only supply fair trade products such as coffee and tea at, for example, their cafes. In effect, choice has been taken away from consumers buying these products: there is no choice but to buy these fair trade goods across these now fully co-branded corporations and institutions; this is what, in her recent book, Katy Wheeler (2012) calls the creation of the ‘accidental’ fair trade consumer.
In his presentation, Mike Goodman (Department of Geography, University of Reading) will argue that this is signalling the end of the citizen-consumer: no longer is there a need for the caring, globally responsible, fair trade consumer who actively chooses fair trade over other non-fair trade goods; in effect, the mainstreaming of fair trade has sounded the death knell of the fair trade citizen-consumer. Rising from its ashes is the relatively novel figure of the fair trade corporate-citizen who has now taken over as the active, politicised, caring and responsible chooser for fair trade items.
Juan Ignacio Staricco (Dept. of Business and Politics, Copenhagen Business School) will continue the critical engagement with Fair Trade by questioning whether it actually provides an alternative set of economic relations to mainstream trade. Using some of the main concepts developed by the French regulation approach, and drawing from preliminary findings based on his recent fieldwork on Argentinean Fair Trade wine ending in the UK market, he will cast doubts on whether Fair Trade can be considered a distinct mode of regulation.
14:30-14:40: Introduction, by Stefano Ponte, Academic Co-Director of the CBS Sustainability Platform
14:40-15:05: ‘The fair trade consumer-citizen is dead! Long live the fair trade corporate-citizen!’, by Mike Goodman, University of Reading
15:05-15:30: ‘Towards a Fair Trade mode of regulation? Some reflections based on the case of Argentinean wine’, by Juan Ignacio Staricco, CBS
15:30-16:00: Open discussion
Juan Ignacio Staricco is currently a PhD Fellow at the Department of Business and Politics. The aim of his research is to produce a critical assessment of the transformative potential of Fair Trade, taking the Argentinean wine industry as his case study.
Mike Goodman is Professor of Environment and Development in the Department of Geography and Environmental Science, University of Reading. Recent work includes the 2014 publication of Food Transgressions (with Colin Sage) for the Ashgate Critical Food Studies book series he edits and a chapter on the connections of fair trade in the Handbook of Research on Fair Trade (2015, Elgar) written with Agatha Herman.