The banns are published on May 5. Milk from the Cotentin dairy masters cooperative in Normandy will blend with Madagascar vanilla and cane sugar. At the end of May or the beginning of June, this marriage between the agriculture of the two hemispheres should offer consumers its first two children: a vanilla fromage blanc and a sweet plain fromage blanc. These are the first two French products certified by the famous Fairtrade/Max Havelaar fair trade label.
Until now, only ingredients from the South, from sugar to vanilla, including bananas and chocolate, were recognized as fair trade by Max Havelaar. It is the turn of this Norman milk to be, and therefore the entire product to be able to display the logo. This development was made possible by the law on the social and solidarity economy of 2014, which opened up fair trade to developed countries, and no longer just to developing countries.
26% of farmers below the poverty line
It was last year that Max Havelaar France made its label eligible for certain French agricultural sectors, starting with wheat from the Gers and milk from Charentes-Poitou. “According to INSEE, more than a quarter of French farmers lived below the poverty line in 2019, recalls Blaise Desbordes, general manager of Max Havelaar France. Our desire is to help them, but by favoring North-South exchanges, therefore by certifying processed products combining ingredients from both parts of the world. »
→ REREAD. Max Havelaar opens his label to French farmers
To be eligible for the specifications, a French dairy producer cannot earn a salary equal to or greater than 1.5 smic per month per person working on the farm, be established for less than ten years, or enter into a process of conversion to the organic. In return for its label, its milk cannot be purchased for less than €415 per tonne. “Compared to an average price paid to producers of €328 between 2015 and 2020 in the Charentes”says Blaise Desbordes.
A win-win project
The two newly referenced products represent 350 tonnes of fresh cheese, i.e. more than 700,000 liters of milk per year, according to the cooperative which processes the milk of 1,100 producers in three factories for the Campagne de France brands (concerned by the label), Valco, Trappe de Bricquebec and Master Dairy Farmers. “The expectations of a farmer, whether in Madagascar or in Normandy, are absolutely the same, to live with dignity from his profession and be proud of his product”explains in a press release Noël Datin, dairy farmer and vice-president of Maîtres laitiers du Cotentin, who evokes a “a win-win project”.
Mass distribution will not be the only distribution channel since the cooperative will also supply its labeled products to social catering (hospitals, retirement homes) and schools. “This type of catering is undoubtedly one of the major areas of development for fair trade in the coming years, believes Blaise Desbordes, according to whom the weight of public decision-makers will be crucial. By choosing both local and fair trade products for collective catering, they will meet the main expectations of consumers. »
Organic in the face of doubt
Max Havelaar’s announcement comes on the occasion of Fair Trade Week, which runs from May 7-22. Figures for the sector as a whole should run counter to those for organic, which is experiencing a decline in sales. “Apart from the inflationary context and the choice of consumers to reduce their food expenditure, it seems that organic is suffering in some way from its success, notes Simon Borel, sociologist and head of the Observatory of the relationship to quality and ethics in food for the research company, ObSoCo. The massification and democratization of offers lead to growing doubt about the authenticity of organic products, unlike local products which are increasingly attractive. »
→ ANALYSIS. Agriculture: when organic no longer pays
“Sales of Max Havelaar labeled products increased by 21% in 2021, compared to 12% in 2020”abounds Blaise Desbordes, who points to an increasingly strong consumer craze for the value of fairness and fair compensation.