5 Common Questions About Fair Trade

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If you’ve followed our fair trade series this month, you should be rather familiar with the subject by now. If you’re just tuning in, however, the following information can provide a quick, handy foundation to build upon.

5 Common Questions About Fair Trade

How is fair trade defined?

Quite simply, fair trade is a type of international trade that provides producers/farmers with an opportunity to break out of the cycle of poverty by guaranteeing fair prices for their products, thus allowing them to compete in the global marketplace.

How does fair trade work?

The system of fair trade is based on a set of key principles, which include:

  • Fair pricing: Farmers are guaranteed a minimum price on their goods, with an additional price for organic products.
  • Fair labor conditions: living wages, a safe work place, and no forced child labor.
  • Direct trade: fewer middle men between producers and retailers ensures better profits for workers.
  • Democratic organizations: farmers collectively deciding how to invest revenue.
  • Community development: Part of earned revenues go towards community support, in the form of scholarships, social/business development, etc.
  • Environmental sustainability: No harmful agrochemicals/GMOs are used, protecting workers, consumers, and the ecosystem.

Why is fair trade important?

The opposite of fair trade is unfair trade─which has grim repercussions. For example:

  • Nearly half the world lives on less than $2 a day and the poorest 40% of the world’s population has only 5% of the global income.
  • An estimated 218 million children are engaged in child labor (UNICEF).
  • At least 70% of child laborers work in agriculture (UNICEF).
  • Unsustainable farming methods and improper care of the soil can result in air and water pollution and erosion.
  • Unfair wages/working conditions/agrochemicals perpetuate poverty and imperil the health of farmers.
  • Almost 75% (126 million) of children engaged in child labor work in hazardous conditions, are exposed to chemicals/pesticides in agriculture, work in mines, or with dangerous machinery (UNICEF).
  • When farmers aren’t guaranteed a minimum price for their crops, they often fall victim to the global economy if demand decreases.

How are fair trade products certified?

Transfair USA is the only independent, third-party certifier in the Unites States. Internationally, Fairtrade Labeling Organizations International (FLO) brings together separate labeling initiatives and producer networks that represent Fair Trade Certified producer organizations throughout the world, unifying them into one coalition.

Are fair trade certified products also organic?

While fair trade does not guarantee organic production, sustainable farming techniques are required, and higher prices are paid for organic products. And fair trade premiums are often used to train producers in organic/sustainable techniques like composting and integrating recycled materials, which can help them move towards organic conversion in the future.

What products are most commonly Fair Trade Certified?

  • Coffee
  • Tea and herbs
  • Cocoa and chocolate
  • Fresh fruit
  • Sugar
  • Rice
  • Vanilla
  • Flowers
  • Honey

Given that farmers, workers, producers, consumers, communities and the environment all benefit from fair trade, it’s easy to justify any and all efforts to support this system with our purchasing dollar. We’re buying these goods anyway, why not make it fair?

Related Items

Understanding Fair Trade

What’s the Difference Between Fair Trade and Free Trade?

How to Recognize Fair Trade Products

Why Should Kids Learn About Fair Trade?

How Does Fair Trade Help Women?


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