Over the last couple of years, there has been an increase in the buzz around buying fair trade products. One of the largest fair trade crops, coffee beans, has seen an increase in particular. But what does it mean for coffee to be fair trade certified? What qualifications must it meet to qualify?
With the average American drinking almost 2 cups of coffee a day, it’s important that we know where our coffee is coming from and who is and who isn’t benefiting from it. Here we will explain what fair trade coffee is, why you should make the switch, and share some fair trade coffee facts.
What Is Fair Trade Coffee?
Fair trade coffee is similar to organic coffee in the way it is certified. An organic coffee label lets consumers know that the coffee is organically produced, while a fair trade certification lets consumers know the origin of the product. Fair trade certified products can come from all over the world, but they all share a commonality: who farms the beans.
Fair trade coffee is farmed exclusively by farmers who receive a fair price from buyers, with their community and the environment around them benefiting as well. It helps prop up the local economy by putting more money into that economy, instead of into the global market which is monopolized by large companies.
Aside from benefiting farmers, workers, and their local economy it also benefits you — the consumer. Almost 85% of Fair Trade Certified™ coffee is also organic which means it is free of commonly used pesticides and agrochemicals which are both toxic. When you make the switch to fair trade, you receive higher quality coffee with a richer nutrient base because of the lack of toxins used in the farming process.
What Does It Mean To Be Fair Trade Certified?
When a brand is fair trade certified it means that it is a product inside the fair trade movement. There are two different main fair trade certification organizations, FLO International’s, the International Fairtrade Certification Mark. These certifications are used in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. In North America, the Fair Trade Certified Mark is the equivalent of the International Fairtrade Certification Mark.
While coffee is one of the most commonly heard of fair trade crops, there are many other products included in the certification system including cocoa, cotton, herbs, spices, bananas, dried fruit, flowers, honey, nuts, tea, and more. While these different crops are farmed all over the world, they all have to meet the same fair trade regulations in order to stay fair trade certified.
Why Is Fair Trade Coffee Important?
Fair trade coffee is important because of a variety of reasons, the first being that it supports farmers in a way most regular coffee farming fails to do. It doesn’t just support farmers and workers but also promotes environmental stability. It also creates a fair price while building up the local community. Lastly, it removes the middle man.
When a consumer chooses to purchase fair trade coffee over regular coffee, or any other fair trade product for that matter, they are choosing to put the farmer first. When a farmer is put first, the community and the environment around them are also put first.
In order to help poverty alleviation and sustainable development, fair trade certification aims to create greater equity in the international trading system. When a company partners with marginalized farmers and craftspeople social and economic opportunities arise in their community as a result. When a product becomes fair trade certified, it guarantees consumers that a marginalized community is impacted positively.
5 Fair Trade Coffee Facts
1. Latin America and the Caribbean produce over 80% of all Fairtrade coffee.
2. Out of all the fairtrade products, coffee accounts for over 25% of all retail sales.
3. There are over 812,500 coffee farmers who are Fairtrade certified.
4. While the average size of a farm in the United States is 231 acres, the average size of a fairtrade coffee farmers’ plot is only 3.46 acres.
5. Coffee prices tend to be extremely volatile depending on the year, time of year, etc. This usually directly impacts farmers, who see an incredible decrease in their already small profits because of the volatile market. Farmers that are Fairtrade certified have a minimum price set which protects them if the market takes a dip.
5 Reasons To Make The Switch
1. Supports Farmers and Workers —
When you make the decision to purchase fair trade coffee, you are making the decision to support small farmers, workers, and communities. Instead of supporting large businesses where the profit mainly goes to the top, shopping fair trade puts the money in the hands of the farmers. When the farmers make an adequate wage, it will also stimulate their local economy.
Sadly, many coffee farmers are not covered by a fair trade program and fail to receive adequate wages. They fail to receive a salary that would provide for their food, shelter, medical care, etc. That is why supporting fair trade coffee programs benefits not only the consumer of the coffee, but also the farmers.
2. Promotes Environmental Stability —
When you purchase fair trade coffee, you are not only getting a great cup of coffee, but you are supporting environmental sustainability. Not only does fair trade support local farmers, but their environment as well. Fair trade, organic coffee uses different practices from mass coffee bean producers, focusing on eliminating the use of toxic chemicals, pesticides, and other chemicals commonly used on coffee crops.
Many fair trade farmers take it further and work with sustainable production methods instead of mass production ones. This helps to preserve the environment around them.
3. Creates a Fair Price —
When you purchase fair trade products, you are directly supporting a fair price for farmers and producers. In order to become fair trade certified, the International Fair Trade Labeling Organization sets a fair base price for a product. This means that you will get a fair price for your product, but so will the workers.
4. Builds Up the Local Community —
Not only does buying fair trade benefit the coffee bean farmers, but it supports and builds up the local community. When you purchase fair trade coffee it helps the farmers, farmhands, and communities involved in the production.
Fair trade coffee is all about creating a living wage for farmers. This directly supports workers and those in the community as well. While fair trade coffee can be slightly more expensive than regular coffee, you can have confidence that it is going directly into local communities and not into another big company.
5. Removes the Middle Man —
When buying fair trade coffee, you directly help put more money in the pockets of the farmers, instead of big companies who monopolize the production. You may not realize it, but coffee from most cafes goes through multiple channels before getting to you. Coffee beans can go through multiple farmers, exporters, brokers, processors, and roasters all before they reach your local cafe.
When a consumer buys fair trade, most of those steps go away. This also promises that the original seller, the farmer, is receiving a fair wage.
When you buy fair trade you can have confidence that you are supporting farmers and local communities. Fair Trade Certified™ products support people and the environment the way all companies should. We hope that our fair trade coffee facts persuade you to make the switch.
You can shop for our fair trade coffee here. We hope you enjoyed learning about fair trade coffee.