Fairtrade means better pay and humane working conditions for small farmers and plantation workers. Since 1992, when coffee was offered as the first product of the Fairtrade cultivation in German stores, it has been followed by numerous products: bananas, chocolate, cocoa, honey, rice, tea, wine, sugar and much more.
Cut flowers were criticized quiete often: the working conditions were inhuman and they would be produced too cheap. The cultivation of flowers and plants from the breeding and harvest to the cutting and packing is a very expensive business. The Fairtrade farms are located in Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Ecuador, El Salvador, Sri Lanka and Costa Rica. Due to high demand 80% of cut flowers sold in Germany have to be imported.
The first company to import Fairtrade flowers to Germany was Omniflora Blumen Center GmbH from Neu-Isenburg near Frankfurt. It claims to be the leading specialist for Fairtrade cut flowers. The world market leadership had to be ceded to the Dutch company Afriflora in 2015, after their Ethiopian flower farm Sher had received the Fairtrade certification.
The first customers of Omniflora in Germany in 2001 were the supermarket chains Edeka and Tengelmann. Rewe is now one of the most important customers, almost all of the Fairtrade cut flowers sold there come from Omniflora. The sale to supermarkets is important because the continuity of sales and prices is a requirement for Fairtrade certification, because only then is it secured that the workers on the flower farms have a stable income throughout the year. Individual florists could not guarantee a constant purchase quantity.
Omniflora works with 15 companies with a total of 22 farms in Kenya. The flower industry is the country’s second largest source of foreign currency after tea. In Kenya, there is a better legal system compared to neighboring countries such as Tanzania and Ethiopia. With Fairtrade certification, farms can reliably cover their costs and offer their workers a salary in addition to well-regulated working conditions that ensures a decent standard of living.
The Fairtrade Premium – a premium of 10 percent on the export price – is also to be used in the interests of workers and their families and is for example used by Omniflora mainly for educational projects.
According to Transfair e.V., Fairtrade certification includes social, environmental and economic criteria. Kenya offers the ideal conditions for the cultivation of cut flowers. Claudia Brück, a member of Transfair’s executive board, explains that a rose grown in Kenya and brought by plane to Europe consumes less energy, including aviation fuel, than would be needed in a European greenhouse.