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Trowbridge coffee shops put under Fairtrade spotlight
3:10pm Saturday 20th February 2010 in News
In the run-up to Fairtrade Fortnight self-confessed coffee addict Charley Morgan tried to get a Fairtrade cup of coffee in Trowbridge.
Trowbridge was the fourth town in west Wiltshire to be awarded Fairtrade town status in February 2009, but finding a Fairtrade cup of coffee in the town is more difficult than you might think.
The Fairtrade label appears on products that give disadvantaged producers a better deal by guaranteeing them a fair price for their goods.
To achieve Fairtrade status towns or villages must meet tough goals on the number of shops and businesses that supply Fairtrade goods, and Trowbridge – with Fairtrade Fortnight looming from February 22 until March 7 – still only just meets the minimum requirements.
Out of about 20 coffee shops in the town centre, only four serve Fairtrade products: Leykers Coffee Central in White Hart Yard; Bakers Oven in Castle Place shopping centre; Shakeaway in The Shires shopping centre and the Crowing Cock in Wicker Hill.
But why should businesses change their suppliers if none of their customers ask them to?
Very few people we surveyed said they asked whether the coffee they bought was Fairtrade. Many of them did not know what Fairtrade was.
This in a town that has been recognised for having shops and businesses which serve Fairtrade goods and an awareness campaign to teach people about it.
Some traders said they did not stock it because they believed it was too expensive.
But Steve Nordland, who co-owns the Crowing Cock in Wicker Hill, said: “All our coffee is Fairtrade and it is not much more expensive.
“I think it works out as a couple of pence more on a kilo bag of coffee and that doesn’t make a huge difference to us.
“We’ve been stocking it for a long time and it’s just habit.”
Shakeaway milkshake bar in The Shires serves organic and Fairtrade coffee.
Franchisee Roxy Gunner said: “One or two people have come in and mentioned that they noticed we served Fairtrade and that it’s a good thing.”
Oxfam in Silver Street sold packets of Fairtrade tea, coffee and chocolate until last year.
Volunteer Jane Tucker said: “We kept having the food stolen, but to tell the truth I don’t know if they were making enough money on it.”
Staff at the Albany Palace in Park Road and the Sir Isaac Pitman in Market Place both insisted they served Fairtrade coffee, but when we asked to see the packets, it turned out that it had the Rainforest Alliance mark on it. This is an organisation set up to stop the destruction of the rainforests but that offers no guaranteed price to farmers for their produce.
Bradford on Avon was the first place in Wiltshire to be given Fairtrade status in 2003, followed by Melksham, which was awarded it in 2007 and Warminster in 2008.
Cllr Steve Oldrieve, who is part of the Trowbridge Fairtrade Group, said: “We’re quite pleased with the progress that’s being made generally. We have had a couple of premises that served Fairtrade close in the last year, but I am hopeful we can progress it in the town.
“Wiltshire Council now has an ethical policy on procurement and a commitment to buying Fairtrade products and there are plans to make Wiltshire a Fairtrade county.
“We really want to encourage people to consider using Fairtrade products but we’re not going to force anybody. We know we’ve got work to do but that’s why we’re in this group.
“I don’t usually ask if my coffee is Fairtrade but I do look for a sign in the shop. I’m surprised there aren’t more places in Trowbridge selling it, considering how many coffee shops there are. It’s bad really.”
Kerry Woolsgrove, 45, of Devonshire Place, Melksham.
“I do drink coffee but I buy the brands I know and like. Fairtrade is a nice thing to have but it’s not something I dwell on when I’m buying a coffee.”
Tarick Yachou, 23, of Hilperton Road, Trowbridge.
“You get used to going to a certain place and meeting the people you know there. If that place started serving Fairtrade coffee then it might be different. I think I would try it and see what it’s like.”
Sheila Walkington, 63, and husband Brian, 66, of Broadmead, Trowbridge.