History of FairTrade in Oxford

We’ve just put in our renewal application for Oxford’s Fairtrade City Status. But just as we have, we got the e-mail below from Jon Danzig, reminding us that Oxford’s history as a centre of Fairtrade goes back a lot further than our Fairtrade City Status from 2003. Here’s what John writes:

Did you know that the idea of the UK FairTrade movement had its origins in Oxford?

With some friends in Oxford in the mid 1970s, we launched ‘Campaign Coffee’ as an educational campaign about the plight, and poverty, of the coffee pickers. Living in Oxford at the time, I personally went to Tanzania, East Africa to arrange the import to the UK of about 3 tonnes of their coffee, which we packaged with information about the coffee trade and a booklet called, “The World in Your Coffee Cup”. This wasn’t to make any money or profit, but simply to let people know that their shopping habits resulted in consequences that rippled across the world. We were all then part of a shop in Oxford called Uhuru, that still exists today.

The coffee we imported was instant coffee processed in Bukoba, Tanzania. It was East Africa’s only coffee processing plant, as mostly Africa exported raw coffee beans for processing in the west. We wanted to encourage manufacturing in Third World countries.

We sold about 20,000 jars of ‘Campaign Coffee’ throughout the United Kingdom with the slogan, “Start stirring for a more just world.” On the packaging we showed a photo of a pile of coins, indicating how much usually went to each stage of the coffee trade per jar of coffee – with the coffee pickers getting the least. This was the prelude to the later FairTrade movement in the UK.

Recently BBC radio interviewed me about this campaign and others during my career as a photo-journalist and film maker. It can be heard on my YouTube channel at www.JonDanzig.com at: http://youtu.be/RFHTrYHcSd0

Keep up the good work!

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