By Matthew Anderson
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Extra resources for A History of Fair Trade in Contemporary Britain: From Civil Society Campaigns to Corporate Compliance
It was a further year or two before Oxfam also began importing from Pastor Stumpf. 21 While it is true that the 1950s and 1960s witnessed the formation of new trading ventures run by major charities such as Oxfam, this historical perspective only offers a limited insight into the business philosophy, practices and impact of these trading operations. A starting point for a reassessment of Oxfam’s trading activities is an understanding that buying from producers in the ‘Third World’ does not, in itself, represent an alternative model of trade.
But the impact assessment found that there was little sign of this diversification and many producer groups remained dependent on Oxfam for at least half of their sales. On average, 75% of sales went to Fair Trade organisations (including Oxfam Fair Trade), 21% went to the domestic market and only 4% went to commercial markets. The report’s conclusion called for a new consideration of Oxfam’s role in relation to global markets. Hopkins proposed that ‘the aim cannot be limited to accessing mainstream markets but, in addition, to influence the terms in which this market operates.
In countering this imbalance, this chapter does not intend to characterise Fair Trade as an exclusively Christian mission; this would be a step too far. Instead, the aim is to investigate how contemporary Christian perspectives about ethics, justice and fairness developed, and to better understand the role of Christian voluntary organisations within the growing network of Alternative Trade Organisations (ATOs) and campaigners working on Fair Trade. Internationally, many Fair Trade companies that are now household names can trace their origins to the work of religious groups and Christian development agencies.