About Fair Trade
What is Fair Trade?
At its base, Fair Trade is an alternative way of doing business; one that builds long-term, transparent and mutually beneficial partnerships between consumers and producers.
True fair trade goes beyond certifications, prices, and labels. It's is built and rooted in a relationship that has to be carefully navigated and constantly nurtured. It is practiced under terms of sustainability and transparency. It requires an earnest engagement with and a dedication to the small scale farmers and the organizations to which they belong.
According to the Fair Trade Federation, nine key principles form the basis of fair trade: to create opportunities for marginalized producers, to develop transparent relationships, to build capacity, to promote fair trade, to pay promptly and fairly, to support empowering working conditions, to ensure children's rights, to cultivate environmental stewardship, and to respect cultural identity. All of these principles can be viewed along with case studies of companies and organizations (even some of Coop Coffees' very own member-roasters!) who have incorporated them as best practices, at www.fairtradeprinciples.org. Coop Coffees continually strives to promote and practice all of these principles and goals in what we do and how we do it.
A Bit of History
Follow this link to get a brief history of how Fair Trade got started.
Fair Trade Principles and Criteria
Each certifying body and association have their own list of principles or certification criteria that specify what to them embodies Fair Trade. They all approach each other, though there are some subtle though significant variations. If you are curious to find out more, you can take a look at the links below for the principles assigned by each organization.
Important Organizations and Certifiers
Fair trade "certification" can apply to either a product or to a company/organization. It's important to distinguish a company that sells a portion of Fair Trade Certified products (as verified by the FLO/Transfair system, for example) and a company that is holistically committed to the movement (as verified by FTF, for example).
IMO "Fair for Life"
With so many different kinds of certifications, labels, and associations, we as consumers can get quite confused as to how to make the most "ethical" purchasing choice! What's the difference between buying a product certified by
FLO or by IMO and buying a product produced by an organization that is a member of FTF or WFTO? Well, certification of any kind is only one small element of practicing fair trade. The Trade for Development Centre - an excellent resource center devoted to promoting fair trade and educating consumers, supporters and the general public about the movement - has an extensive brochure that compares all the different labels and organizations out there.
We encourage supporters and consumers to learn to ask questions about how their coffee, chocolate, clothing, etc was sourced and from where and in that way, look beyond the label and "behind the scenes"(hence, the importance for transparency!) for the true and full picture!