You have probably heard the name “Fair Trade” before, but it is so much more than its name may imply. Fairtrade encompasses a set of principles for people and businesses to follow and helps protect the environment too. Fair trade is a growing movement to ensure fair wages, reasonable working hours, clean working conditions, and fair trade terms. It also helps protect against discrimination. There are now over 1.65 million fair trade certified workers worldwide, and over 1,000 fair trade organizations across 74 countries.
By placing fair trade labels on coffee products that meet certain requirements, we as consumers can easily make informed decisions while shopping. Every product we buy casts a vote towards fair or unfair trade, and by purchasing the certified product, we can make steps towards ending slave labor, and unclean working conditions worldwide.
What’s the deal with coffee?
Fairtrade becomes particularly important when the commodity is produced in a developing country, where standards for ethics and human rights may vary considerably from business to business. This is true of coffee, as well as other commodities like cocoa (caca0), tea, flowers, honey, bananas, textiles, and crafts. When we purchase fair trade products, we are not only receiving a commodity that brings value to our life, we are making a positive difference in the lives of the farmers and artisans who produced it. Fairtrade organizations help the environment by choosing, when possible, local and sustainable materials, minimizing greenhouse gas emissions and waste products, and using energy reducing production techniques.
Fairtrade standards have an especially positive impact in countries and communities where workers are struggling economically. Fairtrade certification can help reduce poverty by helping organizations and their workers become more self-sufficient and sustainable. When we purchase fair trade coffee, we can rest assured knowing the workers who grew, harvested, roasted and shipped the product were treated fairly. Fairtrade standards also help ensure there is equal pay between genders, and that no children were subjected to child labor. To be fair trade certified, businesses must comply with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, along with national and local employment laws for children.
How A Coffee Supplier Becomes Fair Trade Certified
Coffee is considered a whole, pure product by Fair Trade USA. meaning that every step of the production process must be certified. While it may cost a few extra dollars, it is vital we support fairness and clean practices by checking for the fair trade logo.
In developed countries, companies pay a fee to the Fair Trade organization for their country to use the brand and logo. The coffee must come from a certified Fair Trade cooperative which must pay certification and inspection fees. Fair Trade farmers have their own set of criteria they must meet as well, such as not utilizing child labor, pesticides, herbicides, and genetically modified products.
Many factors go into certification, and aspects of an ethical work environment, such as having a voice and safe working conditions, are also factors. Many workers are even educated on their rights under fair trade, so they are not taken advantage of. Ensuring high environmental standards are also taken into consideration, as Fair Trade certifiers believe a healthy environment equals a healthy future!
Once certification is requested and verified, there is a three year wait period until a product can be labeled due to various documentation requirements. There are also audits to ensure certification requirements are being kept, and oftentimes a specialist will visit the site, depending on factors such as how long an organization has been certified, how big the company is and how big the supply chain is. FFairtradeprices are decided after much dialogue and communication between workers and buyers as well, paving the way for a more fair future for all involved.