One of the major benefits that the fair trade movement has given producers is that it has promoted fair trade justice. The large and rapid growth in consumption of fair trade products means that many consumers nowadays are clearly concerned that producers from developing countries get what they deserve. However because international trade rules continue to be in favor of rich countries, majority of people in developing countries continue to live in poverty.
Fair Trade Benefits
It seems that even today, fair trade can only be successful if the conditions are right. Though many farmers, producers and workers around the world are clearly benefiting, there are those that continue to await the justice due to them. In other areas there are still people that continue to be at the mercy of these trade rules.
Fair Trade Coffee and Bananas
The reason for the campaign is that the current situation has glaringly showed that even with Fair Justice Act the system is still not working. Consider coffee, the price of it remains low because of oversupply. This is not just because more farmers are into growing coffee, but because of fair trade there are also other factors involved. One such factor is that some countries were forced to raise cash crops as a condition of obtaining loans from the World Bank. There is also oversupply in sugar which is due to trade rules that allow American sugar producers to receive subsidies. An advantage the sugar producers from developing countries do not have.
One of the most fought over fair trade products is bananas, this is an example of another product where the system has failed. Some Latin American countries continue to practice the use of pesticides and even exploitative labor. Though this means that they are not fair trade certified, their production costs are lower compared to producers and farmers that practice fairtrade. As a result some have opted to grow other products because they can’t compete with the low production costs.
Supporting Fair Trade Suppliers
There is more to the issue than just supporting and buying fair trade products. We, as consumers, must not only ensure that fair trade justice is present, but that our government itself must support trade rules that are fair for everyone. This way we make sure that we not only get the benefits that fair trade has to offer, but we also help the producers and farmers make their lives better..
When you buy Fair Trade products you only spend a little bit of extra money on those products. But that little bit of extra money that guarantees a fair wage to the artisan or craftspeople who make those items adds up to massive amounts of money that is used to fund huge change. More than 4 billion dollars are spent on Fair Trade products yearly.
The huge buying power of consumers who come together to purchase Fair Trade items has directly impacted countless communities both here and in developing countries. It’s easy to tell yourself that the extra money you pay for items won’t make a difference in the long run as a way to justify buying a lower priced item from a chain discount store. But the truth is that the extra money you spend on fairly produced items makes an enormous difference in the world. When you buy these products you are making a difference in the world.
Funds go directly to Fair Trade Artisans
That’s because the premiums that you pay on Fair Trade items go directly to the person that made the product, not to the shareholders of some giant global corporation. Your money is not paying for some executive’s private jet or fancy home. It’s putting food on the table for the family of a craftsman. It’s funding a public school in a developing community. It’s giving a woman the money she needs to leave her abusive husband and feed her children. It’s promoting growth and independence in communities around the world. It’s also helping the environment. The crafters and artists who create these products are not pouring chemicals into river or creating massive environmental damage with huge factories. They are using locally made and sustainably produced materials to create beautiful fairtrade products that are very high quality and will last.
It changes communities
Buying Fair Trade also changes the way that communities are run. When a small business prospers because of the program that money and success impact the entire community. That one small business that is supported by the purchases that you and people like you make will provide employment for local workers, money for the local community to use for health care, education, and streamlined services like water and sanitation. These small businesses will also be able to mentor other small business owners and teach those business owners the skills they have learned from the Fairtrade program. When small businesses thrive the community thrives. When these communities thrive the country thrives. When the country thrives and contributes to the global economy other countries thrive. Fair Trade is the heart of a new type of consumerism – consumerism that cares.
Are you a thoughtful consumer?
The global recession rocked many countries, and many of them are still trying to recover. But the recession also made people realize how interconnected people are with each other, with other communities, and with other countries. These days consumers are more thoughtful about what they buy and really want to know that their purchases have meaning because. When you buy ethically produced products for fair prices you are helping other people just like you to follow their dreams and help their communities. Together everyone can build a stronger economy and a brighter future.
Benefits of Fair Trade Products
It can be a challenge to find the extra money for Fair Trade clothing and products if you are on a tight budget. Sometimes it may seem like it’s just easier to buy the items you need from discount stores. But you can choose to support it, even on a limited budget. With a little planning and a little ingenuity you can find ways to stick to your budget and still only buy certified items. The higher quality of these items means they will last longer, so a little extra money spent now means that you won’t have to replace the item in a few months and spend even more money. Think of the long term benefits of shopping for these items instead of the short term loss of money. The sacrifice of paying a slightly higher price up front for well-made ethically produced items is worth it when you remember what you are a part of when you buy these handcrafted sustainably produced items.
The Story of Fair trade Coffee and What it Really Means
Although there are now many Fairtrade products available on the shelves of stores the movement began with what may still be the offering most familiar to consumers if you ask them about the initiative; fair trade coffee.
Global Coffee Facts
Legend has it that the fact that the beans from the coffee bean tree could be used to create a tasty and energizing beverage was first discovered by weary goat-herders in the Kaffa province of Ethiopia. Although that story is not formally documented the fact that 12th century Yemenites seeking a way to stay up all night to pray turned to coffee to do so is. And the rest, as they say, is history. By the 16th century, coffee was being widely consumed in Africa and the East and it had even made its way to Europe where it quickly became the fashionable choice of the wealthy.
These days of course coffee is a staple that many of us could not imagine starting the day without. Global coffee consumption has in fact doubled in just over 40 years, leaping from 4.2m tons in 1970 to 8.8m tons in 2014 and the US is the world’s largest consumer of imported coffee. Chains like Starbucks make billions and even fast food restaurants like McDonalds have entered the gourmet coffee arena successfully.
If there is one thing that’s for sure it’s that we love our coffee. We just really don’t usually have much of an idea what goes into growing and making it or what challenges and difficulties coffee growers face. And there are far more than just a few.
Coffee and the Fairtrade Initiative
As we just mentioned, it was coffee that got the concept of fair trade off the ground in the first place. Although coffee is grown, harvested and produced in more than 70 countries worldwide 70% of it comes from Latin America. And when global coffee prices crashed in the late 1980s many coffee farmers in the region were left in dire straits, forced to accept less than half per pound than just a few months before.
All of this led to the creation of the very first Fairtrade product. An initiative of the Dutch development agency Solidaridad, Max Havelaar coffee, produced by Mexican coffee farmers, hit the shelves of Dutch supermarkets in 1989 and the idea has spread far and wide ever since. The coffee, by the way, was named after the main protagonist in a transformational Dutch novel of the same named that helped change the unfair policies and grueling conditions workers faced in the Dutch colonies in the 19th century, making it very appropriate for use in this situation.
What Fair Trade Does for Coffee Farmers
At the heart of the initiative as it applies to coffee growers is an assurance that under the fairtrade system they will always be guaranteed the Fairtrade Minimum Price for their goods, along with extra money – around 20 cents per pound – that is to be used specifically to grow the business. In addition, organic coffee farmers receive an additional 30 cents per pound as long as their farming methods meet the accepted standards for organic produce.
What this means that even if the global coffee market fluctuates significantly, which it has several times since the crash of the Eighties, these smaller producers are still assured of a fair return on all of their hard work, safeguarding their businesses for the future and allowing for much-needed growth.
As is the case for all Fair trade certified offerings in order to remain in the program providers must meet certification standards at all times. These include rules on minimum wages paid to workers, sustainable farming practices and the assurance of a discrimination-free workplace for women.
More Than Just a Fair Price
Fair trade does provide more to coffee farmers than a fair price, though. Some may be able to access Fairtrade Premium, a source of additional capital to help improve infrastructures and provide worker education. There are also a wealth of educational resources available to all that help coffee farmers from all over the world remain competitive in an ever-changing market.
So, the next time you are in the coffee aisle at the supermarket and are faced with a choice between a big name brand and a fair trade coffee remember that by deciding on the latter you will not only be getting a great cup of coffee but your dollars will be making a real difference in someone’s life far away as well..
Are you looking for a list of Fair Trade products? I just found this great resource for buying fair trade products and Fair Trade Clothing. Check it out for yourself and see if there are some products you would like to purchase local to you. Even if they aren’t local most companies will usually ship products to you very happily. The shipping may cost a little more but it will be worth it.
Fair Trade Products List
There is a download list available for all sorts of products for sale from all over the world. The Fair Trade Federation (FTF) is the trade association that strengthens and promotes North American organizations that are fully committed to fair trade. If you know of other companies, I’d love to hear from you, so we can share the knowledge about Fair Trade clothing and products across the globe!
Funky Fair Trade Shoes
Have a look at this company, this company ETIKO Fair Trade Shoes has some really funky Fair Trade shoe designs.
‘Jewels of Hope’ (JoH) is an organization started to teach orphans and vulnerable children how to make Fair Trade jewellery as a source of income. It was started under ‘Love in Action Lesotho’ (LiAL) in Lesotho, Africa.
Fair Trade Jewellery made by orphans and vulnerable children
By supporting Jewels of Hope you enable children to receive:
- Basic income to buy food, shoes & clothes
- The means to attend school
- Access to care, mentorship and personal development
- Finance to purchase materials to make more products
- A sense of pride and purpose
The Jewels of Hope Fair Trade Jewellery Online Store
After the death of his mother when he was six years old, Daniel went to live with an uncle. When he was in Grade 3 at school, he went into the mountains to live with his father but as he was required to herd the cows every second day, he only went to school on alternate days. After his father died when he was in Grade 6, so Daniel returned to live with his uncle again. Unfortunately, his uncle became blind and died, so the following year, when Daniel was in Grade 7, he went to live with his grandmother.
Daniel’s aunt had recently become involved as a trainer in a project called ‘Jewels of Hope’ (JoH) that had been started under ‘Love in Action Lesotho’ (LiAL), so Daniel was taken into the program in 2006. When Graeme became a trainer in May of 2008, he began to disciple and mentor Daniel (second from the left) as well as teach him how to make jewellery. With the help of LiAL and JoH, he was able to finish his high schooling and is now in his third year at college doing a course in Business Management. To raise money for transport and other necessities, he has been raising chickens, putting in to practice the business principles that he learned at JoH. He ultimately hopes that he will be able to become an accountant in the future.
In 2009, Daniel (left) became a trainer in the JoH program and now successfully leads a group of five children seeking to disciple and mentor them as well as teach them how to make jewellery.
Benefits of Fair Trade
In May of 2014, Daniel (left) was one of eight graduates from the LiAL project to be trained in the making of paper beads. The organization ‘Jewels of Hope’ based in Johannesburg will buy the beads and use them in their Fairtrade jewellery designs. This gives these young people a means of earning an income to assist them as they continue their studies. This is just one of many examples where buying Fair Trade products makes a difference to a children and a community.
Fair trade products are not limited to purely raw materials but can also involve other types like composite products. We all know that coffee, flour, rice, sugar and tea are considered as purely fair trade products. They can also include processed food like biscuits, chocolate and ice cream, among many other processed foods. The main reason is that these processed foods contain products that can be certified as fairtrade.
Composite fair trade clothing and products are allowed not only for the reason stated above but because it also helps in diversifying the business. It also helps producers earn more income through new business opportunities. Because not all consumers buy raw products by introducing processed foods the choice of consumers are greatly increased. Thus when consumers eventually assimilate these new products as part of their purchasing habits, the producers are able to gain more profits.
Composite Fair Trade Definition
There are three main requirements in order for composite fair trade products to obtain the needed certification:
- If ALL of the ingredients of the processed food can be certified, then it has to be certified.
- If ALL of the ingredients are not suitable for certification, the product can still obtain certification provided that more than half of the ingredients are supplied by produces that are certified as fair trade.
- A product can still be certified even if the certified ingredient accounts for less than half of the product. The condition being that the ingredients with a fairtrade label must be above 20% of the dry weight of the product. An example of this would be a juice drink where the juice is 25% and the rest are water or a biscuit where 28% of the flour used to make it, is classified as Fairtrade.
Fair Trade Certification
At this time there remains the question of whether the level of requirements is satisfactory. One sector argues that the levels should be made higher in order to provide better protection to the fairtrade certification. The other sector on the other hand claims that the levels are already high and they should be lowered in order to certify more products and create additional business opportunities for the producers. There has been no final decision made and the policy on composite fair trade products remain on review with consultations continuously being made.
Whatever the decision may be, those in the fair trade movement know that it will be done for the benefit of everyone.
To anyone wishing to be a fair trade retailer the steps you need to follow are similar as establishing your own business. The main benefit is that you not only earn profits but help producers and workers in developing countries.
Fair Trade Conscious Consumers
Before deciding on what product to sell it is important to determine first what your target market will be. This is not only true for a fair trade retailer but to other retailers as well. Presently there are only a select group of people that buy fair trade items. People who are into the “green movement” for instance prefer fair trade products mainly because they organic and environment friendly. College students as well as middle-aged women also lean towards buying these types of products. People who do meditation and intellectual individuals also choose fair trade products over the commercial ones. These groups of people are often called as conscious consumers. Conscious in the sense that they know buying such products benefits many people.
What to sell as a Fair Trade Retailer
Once you have decided on your target market, the next step to being a fair trade retailer is to decide what products you want to sell. Fair trade products are generally divided into either handicrafts or agricultural. Agricultural products include coffee, tea and other food products. Once the decision has been made, it is now time for you to decide where to buy the products. You have two choices. You can either buy from wholesalers or buy directly from the producers.
If you choose to buy from a producer, this means that you have to put in extra effort and time to finding a group that produces the good that you want. One would need to communicate as well as travel to the actual place. There are many organizations that can help you in this manner. However due to the amount of resources and time needed in setting up a deal with producers, a lot of retailers simply choose to go to wholesalers. If you do choose this method, be sure to check if the wholesaler is indeed practicing fair trade.
These are just a few of the many challenges that one needs to hurdle in order to be a fair trade retailer. However one big advantage of being a fair trade retailer is not just being able to help those in developing countries. As a fair trade retailer your products also become one of the many faces that the general public will relate to the cause.
Being a fair trade wholesaler is more difficult that a retailer because of the function of being an intermediary in the supply and distribution chain of the products. One has to deal with both sides of the chain, from the producers and farmers on one side to the retailers and consumers on the other.
Supply Challenges for Fair Trade Products
One of the first challenges that a wholesaler faces is the issue of supply. Since you will have to act as an intermediary, you must have a stable supply of the products that you are offering. The problem is your supply is dependent on the workers overcoming challenges that they also face. If they are unable to overcome it then chances are the products you ordered could arrive late or worse not arrive at all. It becomes important then to communicate properly with the producers and assist them in becoming efficient. The producers will initially be wary of your efforts especially if you are just new. However as time passes, they will eventually understand your concerns and this will lead to better flow of supply.
Retail Challenges for Fair Trade Products
Generally speaking for fair trade wholesaler, the main client base would have to be the retailers. Though some wholesalers do sell retail from time to time, this is not the core of their business. Thus wholesalers do not interact that much with direct customers or end consumers. One challenge regarding retailers is on the issue of continual education of Fair Trade to retailers. You have to educate and explain to your target retailers what fair trade is all about and the benefits they can get. You would also need to explain to them the challenges faced by selling fair trade products like supply.
There is no clear cut method of knowing which part of the chain you have to do first. Regardless any fair trade wholesaler is likely to incur additional expenses in order to build relationships. On the farmer side, you would need to travel to the actual site and talk with the producers. You would also need to invest in communication methods that will help you make retailers understand what you are trying to do. Marketing your products would mean additional expenses again since you would have to put up displays at trade fairs or even put up posters.
Many Challenges for Fair Trade Wholesaler
There are indeed many challenges to face if one wants to become a fair trade wholesaler. Then again what kind business does not have any obstacles at the start? In order to be successful, one would need to practice good communication not only with the producers but also with the retailers who will sell the Fair Trade products.
I’m sure there are lost of people who will love to find more products like this too! Available from Fair Trade Home Decore