01 September 1998
Government minister in fair trading row

THE Government is embroiled in a row with multinational food groups over support for a “fair trade” initiative aimed at helping the worlds poorest farmers.

Clare Short, the international development secretary, found herself involved after backing the Fair Trade Coffee Challenge, which was launched by the Co-operative Bank in June.

Ms Short wrote to the chief executives of Britains 500 companies, backing the banks call to offer staff a choice of “fair trade” coffee in their vending machines.

Ms Short said the conventional trade damaged the lives of growers because the majority of the worlds small farmers do not get a decent price from the sale of their crop.

Big coffee companies have reacted angrily to her allegations.

  • The Guardian 01/09/98 page 22