A few years ago at a World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) conference my good mate Geoff White from Trade Aid in New Zealand was giving an update on happenings in what had historically been called the “Pacific Rim” regional grouping of WFTO.
Basically the Pacific Rim included the few countries, spread around the Pacific and over half the globe, that didn’t fit either geographically or thematically into the other formalised WFTO regions – which had adopted the names WFTO Europe, WFTO Asia, WFTO Africa and WFTO Latin America. We were the rump, without the formal structure and meaningful names the other regions had taken up. They, and the global secretariat, had been pushing for us to name ourselves formally – and get organized…
But we also had a bit of a reputation for doing things differently to everyone else. When Geoff rose to speak at the conference, he wrote CAJUNz vertically on the board, and proceeded to complete the picture:
“You may think this is a random acronym, but this list shows the relative strength of the currencies in our group! But this is also what we are – spicy, different, down-to-earth, no-fuss – and from now on we want to be known as CAJUNz.”
Of course, the relative currency valuations haven’t survived the years, and neither has the name, at least not formally – but as a nickname it quickly gained strong currency and survives. (We ended up formally called WFTO Pacific, for want of anything more widely recognizable).
But I knew then that Geoff, relatively new to WFTO at the time, was going to be an asset, and good to work with.
Trade Aid NZ, which Geoff manages, is far and away the largest Fair Trade retailer in New Zealand, with their roots in Tibetan rugs and other handcrafts. While they still sell a wide range of handcrafts, Geoff has also turned Trade Aid into a very large food importer and wholesaler, supporting many thousands of marginalized farmers through a worldwide network of Fair Trade exporters.
Here at New Internationalist, we’ve also been doing our bit for small farmers over the years, selling Fair Trade spices and nuts alongside our coffees and teas. But economies of scale make it much harder for an operator of our size to import and sell a wide range of foodstuffs economically and viably.
So after a conversation with Geoff recently, we’ve started trialing a small range of Trade Aid’s delicious Fair Trade foods – spices, dried fruit and nuts and chocolate – on our online shop. If successful, we’ll be able to expand the range and do much more for the producers than we could have on our own. So we’d love you to try them, and welcome your feedback.
And we thank Trade Aid for their whole-hearted assistance to give this venture a chance to succeed. Spicy, different, no fuss, down-to-earth is about right… CAJUNz co-operation.