Previously the preserve of teas and coffees, more and more Fairtrade badges have been popping up on bakery products in recent months. Fairtrade is an organisation that helps to improve trading terms and conditions for producers of, among other products, coffee and chocolate from developing countries. But why should a baker use Fairtrade ingredients, how hard is it to get accredited and what are the hurdles involved?
The very first step to becoming Fairtrade-registered involves applying for a company licence from the Fairtrade Foundation. Once approved, those products which intend to carry the mark are then registered. Companies are required to submit full details of all the Fairtrade ingredients, such as the producer, the processor, the exporter/importer and manufacturer.
"Collecting such detailed information proved to be very time-consuming and was the main issue in the whole process," recalls Gemma Cartwright, who headed up the research project behind Fabulous Bakin’ Boys’ (FBB) recent Fairtrade launches. FBB has been a licensee of The Fairtrade Foundation since September 2007 and currently has three Fairtrade products in its Naturally Fabulous range.
The complete recipe details were submitted to the Fairtrade Foundation, so that it could check the ingredients declaration and confirm this complied with its composite policy. To do so, the Fairtrade ingredients used in products needed to represent more than 20% of the product’s dry weight.
== Sourcing the ingredients ==
So how difficult was tracking down ingredients to fit the bill? "Fairtrade provided us with a list of suppliers that were Fairtrade-registered, so sourcing ingredients was not difficult," explains Cartwright. "However, working with new suppliers and adjusting to new ingredients was time-consuming, especially as none of our existing suppliers were Fairtrade-registered!"
FBB eventually found Ragus Sugars, which supplied it with Fairtrade white granulated sugar, demerera sugar and golden syrup, while European firm Schokinag UK provided the Fairtrade dark chocolate, chocolate chips and cocoa powder.
Of course, there has to be a rationale for switching from established suppliers to Fairtrade ingredients suppliers, and given the relatively low number of Fairtrade products on the bakery market, knowledge about how Fairtrade bakery products would fare was scant. So throughout 2006 and early 2007, FBB commissioned university graduates to conduct research into consumer trends and look into adult consumers’ perception of the UK bakery snacking industry.
What became evident was that consumers wanted to see more ethical cake products in the marketplace, says Cartwright. This was supported by research, conducted for Fairtrade, confirming that 50% of consumers were seeking more Fairtrade cakes. "No other cake brand or competitor of ours was selling Fairtrade cake bars," she says.
The Naturally Fabulous range, introduced in October 2007, has been its most successful product launch to date, says FBB. Of the eight cake bars in the range, three use Fairtrade-certified ingredients and are doing well. In fact, the All Butter Fairtrade Flapjack, made with Fairtrade golden syrup and demerera sugar, is selling twice as much as its five equivalent non-Fairtrade products, adds the firm.
The range also includes Fairtrade Dark Chocolate Chunk Brownie and Fairtrade Belgian Chocolate Flapjack. They are all currently available from foodservice establishments and plans are in place to launch them into the supermarkets this year. Customers have embraced the new Fairtrade cake bars and consumers have been very keen to try them, says Cartwright: "It’s a new area for cake and we’re all looking forward to developing a wider selection of Fairtrade cakes in the near future."
Looking back at the process of going through Fairtrade registration, Cartwright would advise any bakers interested in the scheme to firstly get in touch with the Fairtrade Foundation to discuss the available options. "Find the right supplier for your company and use Fairtrade for any questions."
== beyond gimmicks ==
Fairtrade should not just be about marketing gimmicks and boosting the bottom line. The scheme aims to cement better terms of trade. The premium afforded to such products goes towards investing in community projects, such as schooling and healthcare for producers in developing countries.
"In cases with Fairtrade products, customers pay a premium," says Cartwright. "In FBB’s case, to support the Fairtrade Foundation and to make our new Fairtrade products more available to consumers, we are absorbing the cost. Prices for our Naturally Fabulous products are consistent across the whole range. It’s really rewarding to be a part of something that helps producers in developing countries get a better trading deal." n