News - November 11, 2009

'Here, fair trade beer'

Wageningen cannot call itself a Fairtrade City yet, according to research results from VHL students. The first year students were however surprised at the large assortment of available fairtrade products.

Eleven Fair Trade Management students of Van Hall Larenstein had been counting fairtrade products in supermarkets, restaurants, bars, clothing shops, gift shops and so on in the last few weeks. 'There was a lot to do. Some shopkeepers didn't want to cooperate; others were very helpful instead', was what Prem Lachman experienced. Such work was easier in the supermarkets. 'We could just look around there and see which ones are fairtrade products', his classmate Klaartje Laane explains.
The first years carried out the research for the subject statistics. It was also an assignment from student organization Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE). SIFE is helping the Municipality of Wageningen to achieve the status of Fairtrade Gemeente. This label is thought up by organizations dealing in the Fairtrade movement and cooperation in developing countries. To qualify for it, there must be a certain amount of fairtrade products sold in shops and consumed in restaurants.
Student Hielke Sportel remarks: 'I'm surprised that there are many fairtrade products which do not bear the Fairtrade label. Examples are coffee, tea and chocolate.' Lachman adds: 'And I did not know that there is fairtrade beer either. We found that in a liquor shop., I haven't tried it.'
The group of students also carried out a survey on fifty Wageningers. Of those questioned, 72 percent were familiar with the fairtrade concept. Yet, not many buy fairtrade products regularly. 'Many people find them too expensive', explains Laane.
The research results show that it is still too early to talk about a Fairtrade City label. Wageningen does get bonus points for having the Wereldwinkel and the Terre des Hommes located here. However, very few of its supermarkets stock fairtrade fresh products.
The Mayor of Wageningen Geert van Rumund received the results on Friday 5 November. 'It takes a lot of effort to have all the products counted', he said.
Wageningen wants to be a Millennium Gemeente. Fair trade is part of the aims which belong to the fight against poverty and to sustainability. 'The label is not the thing which matters. It's about the responsibility borne by the entire city', adds the mayor. The city council has formed a fairtrade working group.