Organised by AgroFair — the company that connects the farmers with stores like Tesco, Sainsbury’s and The Co-operative — the group joined in five days of discussions, workshops, a seminar and visited some stores to see their products on shelves.
They finished up in Cumbria for AgroFair’s AGM where they met local Fairtrade campaign groups and celebrated the launch of the first Fairtrade ice lollies from The Co-operative.
John Bowes, Managing Director of AgroFair UK, said: “The whole week has been a huge success. We wanted the fruit farmers – our shareholders – to gain a real understanding of the market in the UK by visiting retailers, talking to consumers and engaging with campaigners. They have had an unforgettable experience.”
Lesetja Frans Tlolane, a citrus grower from Zebediela Estates in South Africa, said after his visit: “AgroFair markets our crops, gives us shares and gives us premiums. We are tied together in this strong relationship. I want the company to grow and to continue to supply it with my crops. I want to encourage other farmers to go down the same route. I want Fairtrade to become bigger and bigger until it covers our country.”
Banana, pineapple, mango and citrus producers from Ecuador, Costa Rica, Colombia, Peru, Dominican Republic, Brazil, Argentina, Ghana and South Africa heard that the company, which sells fruit to 14 European countries and the USA, achieved a steady growth in 2007, increasing turnover by eight per cent to more than €67 million.
As part of the five-day tour, AgroFair held a seminar on the future of Fairtrade at South Africa House, Trafalgar Square, which included contributions from Minister for Trade and Development Gareth Thomas MP, Executive Director of the Fairtrade Foundation Harriet Lamb, Editor of The Grocer Adam Leyland and Peter Marks Chief Executive of The Co-operative Group, as well as the farmers themselves.
AgroFair also used the week to announce its plans to launch OKÉ, the UK’s first Fairtrade smoothies which are not made from concentrate. Farmers who produce its fruit were presented with the smoothies – in Mango, Orange and Pink Guava and Raspberry, Blackberry and Banana flavours – for the first time.
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