Friday, 5 March 2010

The Belgians come to town by James Picken

Fairtrade Foundation's Supporter Marketing Manager James Picken blogs about his day out in London showing Fairtrade Belgium colleagues Fairtrade Fortnight in action...

It’s 08:56 in the morning on Friday 5th March and Fairtrade Belgium’s train pulls into the Eurostar terminal at St Pancras exactly on time. Ben and I meet them at a prearranged meeting point – an impressively well Fairtrade Fortnight branded outlet of Starbucks. Laurent and Stephane are bowled over by the fantastic Starbucks POS materials and other co-branding.

So as not to waste any time we immediately get subterranean on the Piccadilly line and head to Tesco’s flagship Earl’s Court store. Oddly we find ourselves in the wine section first off. Having checked out (but not sampled) a few Fairtrade reds we then suss out the Easter egg isle. Ben can’t resist but my himself a Fairtrade Maya Gold Easter egg! “It’s not for me, it’s for someone else!” he exclaims. We believe you, Ben.

Working our way around the Fairtrade bus stop banners in the store we clock up tea, coffee and an especially good Fairtrade chocolate section. With Tesco’s Finest organic Fairtrade chocolate on special offer at £1 per bar Laurent and Stephane fill a basket full of the stuff.

Onwards to Sainsbury’s on Cromwell Road and we’re welcomed by a sign reading ‘Thank you for helping us become the biggest retailer of Fairtrade products’ – all Fairtrade branded of course. Bus stop banners are all over the place for tea, coffee, sugar, wine as well as the usual Sainsbury’s range of other Fairtrade products. Stephane and Laurent stock up again on as many different products as possible, however this time to make room in their bags we were forced to eat some of the chocolate we picked up at Tesco’s. It’s a hard life sometimes.

Meandering our way through the Kensington Ferraris, Bentleys and Range Rovers we arrive at Whole Foods – an absolute stonker of a store. Not cheap but it’s ethical credentials are out there for all to see with window displays inviting customers to ‘Meet our producers’. Inside there are various forms of POS, leaflets and other info. Fair Vodka was widely available, but we were very disappointed to have missed out on the Fairtrade Fortnight Cocktail Master Class which had gone on the previous evening.

Down in the basement there were Fairtrade products all over the place, producer stories and a dedicated, manned Fairtrade chocolate tasting station from Maestrani chocolate, which had apparently been sponsored by the Maestrani importer in the UK. The representative was very well informed and had been through briefing sessions on Fairtrade and the Fair Trade movement. Very impressive indeed.

At this point it was time for me to head back to the office to fit some work in before the Fairtrade ingredients cake bake off. Our Belgian cousins couldn’t resist but turn up for the bake-off taste testing so fortunately we were able to bid farewell to them properly, ensuring their stomachs were lined with our homemade concoctions. The diet starts Monday, I promise.

1 comment:

  1. It surely was an impressive and inspiring day we had overseas.
    Most of the products we bought strangely disappeared, have to investigate about that :-)

    Congrats anyway for the great Fairtrade Fortnight, and glad we could feel it "live" and overseas.

    Next "bake-off" contest with REAL good chocolate (Belgian!) in our office, deal?

    The Belgian guys,
    Laurent & Stephane