Monday, 16 December 2013

Chocolate pioneers awarded Shackleton Medal

Craig Sams and Jo Fairley, the couple behind chocolate brand Green & Black’s were awarded with the Royal Scottish Geographical Society’s (RSGS) Shackleton Medal after giving a talk in Perth Concert Hall on Tuesday 10th December.

The couple were given the medal in honour of their work launching and bringing to the mainstream fairtrade and organic products in the UK.  They launched Green & Black’s in 1991 and sold it on to Cadbury in 2005 in what has been called by some a ‘reverse take over’ of the world’s largest confectionery company which forced them to consider wider ethical operations.

Green & Black’s is a well-known brand and is celebrated both for its quality and its ethical credentials. The success of the brand has convinced both the consumer public, and business, that Fairtrade and organic products are both viable and desirable.

The company’s Fairtrade chocolate bar Maya Gold, has led to a significant change in fortunes for the Maya people in Belize.  In the early nineties before Maya Gold, only 10 per cent of children in the area where Cacao is produced had access to secondary education. By 2006 this had risen to 70 per cent. Women in the area have also been empowered through their expertise in Cacao production and living conditions have improved considerably.

The Shackleton medal is named after the previous Director of RSGS, Ernest Shackleton, who along with being a leading polar explorer of his age, is still today a popular example of leadership.    This award is for leadership and citizenship in a geographical field.

The award being issued in Perth was fitting, as Perth is Scotland's newest fair trade city, the momentum for which early last year, assisted by RSGS, led to Scotland's certification as a fair trade nation.

They were awarded with the medal and fellowship of the RSGS by RSGS Trustree Lorna Ogilvie.