Fairtrade International has said the number of farmers and workers benefitting from the system increased by 13% in 2011 as the food and drink industry continues to pledge its support, according to a new report.
The report, Monitoring the Scope and Benefits of Fairtrade 2012 , found that the number of producer organisations increased 10% from 2010 to 2011, while the number of farmers and workers in the system increased 13%.
Sales at grassroots level were up during the period too, as smallholders reported a 30% increase in revenues on Fairtrade terms and a 26% increase in the Fairtrade Premium.
Cocoa and sugar saw particularly strong growth; the Fairtrade Premium received by smallholder cocoa farmers increased 89%, and the total number of farmers producing Fairtrade sugar increased from 17,600 to 37,200.
The organisation directly attributed this growth to large scale commitments from major sugar and chocolate companies.
Sales of Fairtrade-certified continue to grow, as food, drink and consumer product manufacturers have made ethical sourcing commitments, and consumer awareness has increased. Globally, Fairtrade product sales hit €5bn in 2011, up 12% from the previous year.
However, the report also pointed out weaknesses in the Fairtrade system, including bringing knowledge of how it works to farmers in the most remote areas, and those with the lowest literacy levels.
Gender equity and child labour were also areas of concern, the report said. In some regions, gender roles that disadvantage women are deeply rooted in local culture, and school absenteeism during harvest is also a widespread problem for some crops and regions.
“While the data show strong growth across many indicators for small producer organizations, plantations and other hired labour setups in some product areas continued to sell only a relatively small share of their production as Fairtrade,” the organisation said.
The full report (pdf) is available by clicking here .