FairTrade: Drinking With Your Heart

The cute children of the Fairhills Creche (early-childhood development program)

Fairhills: South Africa Project

It is indeed a pity that in today’s South Africa, the name FairTrade is still so seldom heard. In actual fact, many people don’t even know it exists. If they do, they’re unsure what a FairTrade product means. DuTotiskloof Wines hosts the largest FairTrade project in the world, namely Fairhills; yet, so few of their loyal wine drinkers are aware what type of responsible purchase they’re making when they take the wine off the shelf.

Granted, FairTrade was aimed at the first-world customer. It was started to ensure the conscious consumer that any agricultural product they purchase with that label, would be produced in a responsible manner. Thus, to expect the emerging economy consumer to take notice may be a little tough an ask, or is it?

In South Africa, with its overactive sense of social consciousness due to a tumultuous past, with empowerment and rural reform firmly on the political agenda, one wonders why FairTrade hasn’t made more of an impact in the local market. We are, after all, not your run-of-the-mill emerging economy, we are a country of two halves making a whole; we are a nation striving to better the fortunes of the previously marginalised and bridge those two halves.

For the cellar and the producer, being FairTrade accredited comes with a heavy burden. Not only the mountain of paperwork it produces, but the regulations, audits and criterion which far exceed South African labour and empowerment legislation. The additional costs and demands which come with the label can be sizeable. However, with that burden, some hefty rewards are forthcoming.

One, a clear conscience; FairTrade means you go above-and-beyond to ensure safe, fair and above-par labour practices. Two, it provides your workforce with best-in-industry housing and working conditions leading to a higher quality employee. Three, it fosters skills development, not only in providing adult skills-training, but also in boosting childhood education and providing after-school programs. Four, it ensures we produce wine that is environmentally responsible; after all, farmers have the most to lose from Climate Change.

So, when you pick up a bottle of FairTrade wine, are you just drinking it because of the joy a Cabernet or a Sauvignon can bring to a dinner engagement, a party or a sunset with friends… or are you thinking about what went into it? Purchasing FairTrade is purchasing with philanthropic intent. Buying FairTrade is consuming that 750ml of joy, whilst bringing joy to the peoples of rural areas and bringing joy to the earth. Buy smart and buy responsibly.

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