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Fair Trade

Page history last edited by pck205 13 years, 3 months ago

SoCap Markets Conference 2008


Fair Trade




1.      What is Fair Trade?


Fair Trade is an alternative system of trade which counteracts this system of international free trade, corporate control and global policies by giving the farmers and workers a living wage for their work, which can sustain them and also create opportunities for social and economic development.

2.      What are the key principles of Fair Trade?


Fair Trade principles include:

  • Paying fair wages in local context;
  • Supporting participatory workplaces;
  • Ensuring environmental sustainability;
  • Supplying financial and technical support;
  • Offering public accountability.
  • Respecting cultural identity;
  • Building direct and long-term relationships; and,
  • Educating consumers.

3.      Who are the participants in Fair Trade?


Fair Trade involves for the most 3 different groups of people and certain agreements between them.



Producers refers to the farmers, artisans, workers, cooperatives who are producing the products - coffee, tea, cocoa, honey, handicrafts etc. The producers have to follow certain agreements to qualify the products they produce as fair trade.



Importers refers to the people who import the fair trade products produced by the producers to their respective countries for further processing and sale either by themselves or by other processors and retailers. Importers and subsequent processors of products also have to follow certain agreements and standards to qualify them as fair trade importers and/or processors.


Fair Trade Certifiers

Certifiers are organizations/entities which certify producers and importers as fair trade, if they follow the fair trade guidelines. FairTrade Labeling Organization (FLO) is the entity which certifies producers from all over the world as fair trade and ensures that producers are following the producer fair trade standards, while Transfair USA is the organization which certifies importers and processors in the USA as fair trade and ensures that they follow the fair trade standards for importers/processors. Similarly, there are other organizations in other countries (Japan, Germany etc..) certifying their importers and processors as fair trade. There is also Fair Trade Federation, an association of importers, retailers and producers who commit themselves to certain fair trade guidelines, but these guidelines are neither enforced or the products certified to meet their guidelines.

4.      How are products deemed as “fair”?


A fair price for a product is one that covers the producer’s cost of sustainable production. On top of the production costs, the Fair Trade Labelling Organizations International (FLO International) establishes a Fairtrade Premium, which is invested in social, economic or environmental projects of improvement, decided upon democratically by producers within the organisation or workers within the plantation.

Fairtrade Minimum Prices are therefore not determined by bargaining, pressure tactics, or traders in commodity markets half way around the world. They are determined in a fair and systematic manner, and are periodically reviewed to ensure producers’ production costs are still being covered.

5.      What kinds of products are available?


Consumers can choose fairly traded clothing, coffee, food, furniture, home décor, house wares, tea, toys, personal accessories, and many other products. As Fairtrade products become more readily available, the range of products offered continue to grow incredibly.

6.      Where can I buy Fair Trade products?


FLO International is the umbrella association of Labelling Initiatives known as Max Havelaar, TransFair, Fairtrade Foundation, and by other national names. At the moment, there are 20 Labelling Initiatives, mainly throughout Europe and North America. They license the Certification Mark onto consumer products and promote Fairtrade in their country.

For the list of Labelling Initiatives - see Fair Trade Relevant Firms and Organizations

Within the US:

Fair Trade Certified products are served at many national cafes and restaurants:

·         Ben & Jerry's Scoop Shops - Ask for Vanilla, Chocolate, Coffee or Coffee Heath Bar Crunch ice cream.

·         Bruegger's - Ask for their daily Fair Trade Certified brewed coffee.

·         Caribou Coffee - Ask for the Fair Trade Blend.

·         Dunkin' Donuts - Order any hot or iced espresso drink.

·         Einstein Bagels - Ask for their Global Village Fair Trade Blend.

·         Noah's Bagels - Ask for their daily Fair Trade Certified brewed coffee.

·         Peet's Coffee and Tea - Ask for the Fair Trade Blend.

·         Seattle's Best Coffee - Ask for the Fair Trade Certified Organic French Roast.

·         Starbucks Coffee - Ask for Cafe Estima.

·         Tully's Coffee - Order any hot or iced espresso drink.

Fair Trade Certified products are available at many national retailers:

·         Costco

·         Fred Meyer

·         Giant

·         Harris Teeter

·         Kroger

·         Publix

·         Quality Food Center

·         Safeway

·         Sam's Club

·         Shaw's Supermarket

·         Stop 'n' Shop

·         Target

·         Trader Joe's

·         Wal-Mart

·         Wegman's

·         Whole Foods Market

·         Wild Oats


7.      Do fair trade goods cost more than comparable non-fair trade goods?


Not necessarily. Fair Trade Certified coffees and chocolates are generally priced competitively with other gourmet, specialty coffees and chocolates. They are, though, more expensive than mass-produced, low quality coffees and chocolates. Fair Trade Certified bananas, on the other hand, can cost much more than conventional bananas because small cooperatives lack the extensive shipping and logistical capabilities of vertically-integrated, multinational fruit companies and incur higher costs to transport their products to market. Furthermore, the same Fair Trade Certified product can have different prices in different retailers across the country.

In the end, product manufacturers and retailers set their own prices and Fair Trade Certification agencies do not control or influence retail pricing of Fair Trade Certified products in any way. As Fair Trade expands to ever more companies and retailers, consumers increasingly have more choice of where to buy their Fair Trade Certified products. This increased competition will most likely drive down retail prices of Fair Trade Certified products.

8.      How does one know if a particular product or business is fair trade?


There are two types of organizations involved in fair trade. Some certify specific commodities, regardless of to whom they are sold; others screen organizations for their full commitment to fair trade, regardless of what products they sell.

Member organizations of the Fair Trade Federation usually display the FTF logo on their business materials, are listed on the FTF website, and may have the words “Member of the Fair Trade Federation” on their products. The Fairtrade Labelling Organization and its North American affiliates, TransFair USA and TransFair Canada, allow their label on the products they have certified.

9.      Does fair trade make a difference?


In producer communities, schools are built, wells constructed, children attend school, and other signs clearly indicate that the income generated by fair trade sales positively resonate in a community. In intangible ways, one can note the impact of fair trade, as well. Cultural techniques are revived; women become valued members of their societies; alternative production methods preserve biodiversity; small and medium sized enterprises in the developing world increase their capacity. Through this and other evidence we know that lives have been positively changed, because of fair trade.

10.  How long has fair trade been in North America?


The fair trade movement in North America began in 1946 when Edna Ruth Byler, a volunteer with the Mennonite Central Committee, began importing crafts from Puerto Rico and selling them out of her car.

11.  What can individuals do to support fair trade?


Individuals can support fair trade by educating their communities about the fair trade options available, by bringing fairly traded items into their home, office, faith community, school, or other group, and by asking for products from fair trade organizations in their local stores.

12.  Are Fair Trade Certified products also certified organic?


Not necessarily. FairTrade criteria however require sustainable farming techniques, and offer a higher price for organic products. Moreover, FairTrade Premiums are often used to train producers in organic and sustainable techniques like composting and integrating recycled materials.



Comments (1)

jones@goodcap.net said

at 7:27 pm on Oct 7, 2008

wow this rocks!.

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