Buying produce with a “Fair Trade” label means that the farmers and other producers involved in the process of bringing that product to the consumer are working to Fair Trade standards. Fair Trade is an organisation that looks at the producer’s supply chain and determines whether trade has been fair right alone the chain. Human working environments, eco-driven production methods and the reduction of poverty are all goals of this exercise. Buying Fair Trade coffee helps to support this process and there are some very good reasons why we do it.
Supporting smaller, local farmers
Regular trade infrastructure forgets the people at the bottom of the ladder because they can’t compete on price. While the big subsidised companies that come in and take over local industries can afford to drive prices down, small producers can’t and often end up in debt. Trying to compete with these big producers can leave local farmers charging prices so low that they can’t afford to pay their workforce fairly or sustain ongoing production. Fair Trade ensures that this doesn’t happen.
The Fair Trade licence fee generates income
This income goes back into the communities where it has been generated, channelled into specific projects such as schools, scholarships and leadership programmes. There is the opportunity for the community to have control over how these funds are distributed – by using democratic systems.
Encouraging more equitable practices
Fair Trade provides a guaranteed minimum floor price to farming groups that have been democratically organised, with an additional sum for organic certified products. There is also the opportunity to access pre-harvest credit. This encourages much more transparency along the supply chain and rewards a fairer approach.
Setting minimum standards that must be respected
Child and slave labour are two problems that have had a big impact on global farming and production – and they are commonplace in some parts of the world. Buying Fair Trade means we know that none of the coffee producers we work with have been involved in these practices. Instead, workers enjoy sustainable income and safe working environments.
A higher quality
The Fair Trade certification also means that the product doesn’t contain any genetically engineered ingredients. Plus, there has been greater focus on removing chemicals that are often used during the growing process and which can affect both the product and the land on which it is grown. Fair Trade puts limits on where and how much pesticide and fertiliser can be used in the growing process in order to receive the certification. It also requires that waste, water and energy are being properly managed by those involved in the production process.
Fair Trade is so much more than just a label. It is an indicator of quality and environmental focus, as well as an assurance that standards of fairness are being met. It is an organisation that has fundamentally shifted the approach that farmers and producers take to the way coffee – and many other products – are grown and generated a positive impact for the local communities that depend on industries like this for survival. Find out more about sustainable coffee and how we support and help fund the growth of ethical coffee plantations across the world.