Sale of Fair Trade products in Czech Republic increases by 60 percent

Fair Trade product sales in Czech Republic increased by some 60 percent in 2010, representing a turnover of some 80 million crowns. The sharp rise in interest in items produced or in developing countries under transparent conditions and according to clear ethical norms, has been attributed to several factors and earlier Radio Prague discussed some of them with Tomáš Bílý, the head of the Czech Fair Trade Association.

“The main difference in 2010 is that many retail chains got on board and began introducing Fair Trade products on their shelves: for the first time certain items became widely available to consumers. More than 100 supermarkets in the country now offer Fair Trade products and there are many smaller shops also where items are available. Another reason for the increase is heightened campaigning for Fair Trade principles – partnerships based on transparency and respect with regards to producers.”

What are some of the basic tenets of Fair Trade?

Tomáš Bílý
“The most obvious ones are the prohibition of child labour and establishment of minimum set price levels for producers. There are also many other basic standards that have to be met by producers. To join producers have to have certification outlining the standards: it is not the problem of the producers mainly but the company – the exporter or importer – that does business with them. Auditors make sure that all the standards are fulfilled, that’s basically how it works.”

I’ve read that the very first Fair Trade products in the Czech Republic were introduced back in 1994: what were they and how has what is on offer changed?

“In 1994 handicrafts were the first items on the market. For ten years, until 2004 when we joined the EU, it was only handicrafts, but today the lists includes agricultural products like tea, coffee, sugar and cocoa and so on. In terms of price, some items are comparable to domestic items sold here or in other parts of Europe. Chocolate is about the same, but teas is a little more expensive. In any case, we hope it because a bit of a fashion here, like in neighbouring countries. Certainly the situation is incomparable to five years ago.”

Photo: Czech Fair Trade Association
This Saturday hundreds of Czech consumers are expected to be among those marking World Fair Trade day, with a number of events being offered including a Fair Trade breakfast for those who come out. Some forty towns around the country are taking part. Look up the Czech Fair Trade Association at