Archive for January, 2012

Fair Trade Sales Soar

It’s a New Year and the number of fair trade products is expanding, you can see this just by walking down an isle of the grocery store. This growing number of products, choices and availability is a direct response to consumer demand. That means you! First, sales are no longer small: retail sales of Fair Trade items passed $6 billion worldwide in 2010, growing 27% over 2009. Sales in just the U.S. since 1998 have generated additional income paid to producers, beyond normal market rates, of $220 million. As of 2011, 827 producer organizations in 58 developing countries are Fair trade Certified. (3)

“Fair Trade is part of a larger movement about corporate social responsibility, influenced by the public’s desire to deal with companies that are (committed) to workplace quality, the environment and employee well-being.”
~ Mac McCoy, president, dZi–The Tibet Collection (2)

When we make the choice to buy fair trade products we support producers on many levels. Unlike mainstream trade agreements fair trade agreements are rooted in supporting farmers and artisans. These relationships often lead to an increase in a producer group’s ability improve their daily lives. Sales from fair trade products pay for community development, to build schools, provide clean drinking water, pay for sickness benefit and pilot organic conversion schemes among other things. In conventional trade, the producer generally receives only 1% of the retail price consumer’s pay but in Fair Trade the producer generally receives 20 – 45% of the retail price. (3)

Fair trade products have financed a magnitude of programs that impact producers lives daily. The Union of Indigenous Communities of the Isthmus coffee growing cooperative in Oaxaca dedicated funds from the sale of Fair trade products for a variety of social purposes. They paid for the construction of latrines; fuel-efficient household stoves to reduce disease, smoke related respiratory problems; training local youth as community development workers. But also for environmentally focused activities for combating deforestation, and training young people in appropriate composting technologies intercropping of coffee and legumes, animal husbandry, and alternative food and cash cropping. At the Majomunt’s organic coffee cooperative in Chiapas, Mexico the soil conservation used has helped reduce soil loss erosion by 38,000 tons per year. In these ways fair trade is helping to preserve cultural identity and pride. (4)

A significant number of studies identified increased self-confidence gained by producers particularly women who participate in fair trade.

Sonia Anahue Uscamayta

“In the beginning when we were struggling to make money and find customers, when one person would want to give up, the others were beside them and encouraging them to stick with it.” – Sonia Anahue Uscamayta has been working in Peru with the Munay Rumi jewelry cooperative for four years. (1)

There is evidence that participation in fair trade improves quality of life for producers as well as product quality. Relationships between buyers and producers are long term when fair trade. This leads to substantial improvements in product quality as long-term direct trade relationships create incentive improve in years to come. Producers are allowed to plan for the future they can depend on stability; both their buyers and their market thanks to fair trade  products. Murry et al (2003) reported that the Majomunt cooperative in Chiapas is planning for the future by investing in a community organic farming promoter, which has allowed farmers to convert their coffee and other crops to higher-income generating, diversified and more ecologically sound production. (4)

“With Fair Trade we have an incentive to invest in social programs that benefit producers and the community. We also receive higher incomes to sustain ourselves. If it weren’t for Fair Trade, we wouldn’t exist as banana producers since the amount we receive for a box of conventional bananas does not cover our expenses.” ~ Edinson Cabana Zapata, co-op member, ASOPROBAN banana cooperative, Colombia (2)

When we buy Fair Trade products, we know that:

  • Artisans and farmers are paid a fair and livable wage
  • No child labor is involved
  • Safe working conditions are provided
  • Environmentally sustainable production methods are used.
  • Profits are reinvested into the community for education, health care, and social services
  • Communities become self-sustaining and can raise themselves out of poverty

Thanks for supporting fair trade!

Works Cited

1. “Crafting Change: Fair Trade Artisan Tour.” Green America: Economic Action for a Just Planet. Web. 19 Jan. 2012. <;.

2. Fair Trade Community. Web. 24 Jan. 2012. <;.

3. Fair Trade Resource Network » Our Goal: To Create a Market That Values the People Who Make the Food We Eat and the Goods We Use. Web. 24 Jan. 2012. <;.

4. Nelson, Valerie, and Barry Pound. “The Last Ten Years: A Comprehensive Review of Literature on the Impact of Fairtrade.” Review. Print.

5. “Fairtrade Certification.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 24 Jan. 2012. <;.



January 30, 2012 at 8:34 pm 2 comments

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