fair trade town photo of downtown winnipeg

Fairtrade products enhance a business by providing quality items at a fair price that benefits the communities where the product was grown, while providing the consumer with peace of mind in knowing that a responsible certification program has verified the integrity of the product. Ensuring products are grown in an environmentally and socially sustainable manner represents the new standard for the way we import products from the Global South.

What is “Fair Trade Winnipeg”?

Fair Trade Winnipeg is a collaborative, community based working group that includes fair trade advocates from government, the private sector and civil society. The Fair Trade Winnipeg Steering Committee was formed in 2014 to achieve the common goal of making Winnipeg a Fair Trade Town. Throughout 2017, the Fair Trade Winnipeg Steering Committee worked in partnership with the City of Winnipeg to increase fair trade education and awareness in our communities, workplaces, faith groups, and schools. Previously, there were no guidelines in place to require fair trade certification for any products purchased by the City.

How Winnipeg Achieved the Fair Trade Town Designation

In 2017, the City achieved the Fair Trade Town designation by making a formal commitment to purchase Fairtrade Certified coffee, tea, and sugar where these products are purchased using public funds. The process of making such a commitment was not without challenges. It took longer than the Steering Committee had envisioned to achieve the designation.

Significant research went into identifying the potential cost implications of requiring Fairtrade certified purchases for coffee, tea, and sugar in municipal operations. However, the Steering Committee had a great deal of support from the community. For example, in Winnipeg, over 160 retail grocery stores and over 50 restaurants and cafés offer Fairtrade products to consumers.

This product availability, in conjunction with community support, made achieving the requirements of the Fair Trade Town designation much less challenging.

The Outcome

The City of Winnipeg stresses the importance of continued engagement on Fair Trade, guided by a strategy, following designation. Continued communication of the City’s commitment to Fair Trade purchasing, coupled with annual goals, help to keep momentum going in the community, leading to increased sales of Fairtrade certified products and positive change for farmers and workers in developing countries.

For more information on how to become a Fair Trade Town, please visit www.cftn.ca.

Source: The State of Sustainable Public Procurement in Canada, 2017

Readers are cautioned not to rely upon this article as legal advice nor as an exhaustive discussion of the topic or case.  For any particular legal problem, seek advice directly from your lawyer or in-house counsel.  All dates, contact information and website addresses were current at the time of original publication.