Fair Trade is not only great coffee, but it helps sustain social and economical movements throughout the world. Fair trade coffee ensures the farmer receives a fair price for coffee, regardless of the market. Fair Trade organic coffee is generally organic shade grown coffee, which results in better water quality for the coffee growing region and better health conditions for the farmer.
When you dont buy Fair Trade Coffee you may be purchasing coffee from agricultural worker conditions described as sweatshops in the field. Some small farmers pay more for the production costs than the price they receive for their coffee; resulting in poverty and debt.
There are stringent international criteria for an importer to meet the Fair Trade guidelines. For example, the importer must pay at least $1.26 per pound, providing credit to farmers and to help with the transition to organic farming, which could take a few years to get rolling. To get an idea of the difference non Fair Trade coffee importers could pay is as little as $0.60 per pound and coffee companies have not lowered consumer prices. Therefore, the farmer toils in poverty and the coffee companies pocket the higher profit margin.
That said, to be Fair Trade, certified farmers have to use sustainable growing practices and do not necessarily have to produce organic or shade grown coffees. Labels with the Fair Trade Logo and certification will state if the product is organic and shade grown, like Kicking Horse Coffee.
Fair Trade Coffee Certifications:
- Farmers and workers sign a long-term contract to receive a sufficient price for coffee.
- Farmers cannot use child or forced labor.
- Farmers must use ecological sustainable growing and production methods.
- Must use Fair Trade Certified on labels and the Fair Trade Federation logo.
An interesting fact is: because of the lack of demand of Fair Trade products, Fair Trade farmers may only sell 20 percent of their produce through these channels and the rest goes to coffee companies at the market rate. We can help working conditions on farms and their surrounds by buying only Fair Trade products.
Fair Trade also certifies other items like: tea, rubber, crafts, cocoa, bananas, home & garden products and musical instruments.
Things to watch out for while purchasing coffee. Some coffee companies use words like fairly traded or shade grown coffee. Some companies have shade-grown certifications, which could include wage and labor standards, but usually concentrate on larger farm productions and pay farmers and workers local minimum wages. These generally arent enforced. If you have questions or concerns about the coffee you are purchasing you can contact TransFair USA or the Fair Trade Federation.