It’s likely you have seen or heard about fair trade products, but have you ever wondered what exactly fair trade means? In this post, we’ll look at the question – what is fair trade? We’ll also explore some of the benefits of fair trade, and why it is important today.
Knowing Your Food
How consumers shop for and consume food has changed in the past decade, and more and more people want to know where their food is coming from, how it’s processed, and what kind of impact it will have on them, their family, and the world.
Knowing the history of your food isn’t a bad thing, and this desire has led to other evolutions in agriculture, including changing practices so that fewer chemicals are used on crops and given to livestock, which is healthier for humanity and the environment. More sustainable crop growing practices have also been developed, which benefits humanity now and in the future.
What Is Fair Trade?
While it is important to make sure consumers and the environment are healthy when it comes to growing crops and raising livestock, it’s also important that the farmer’s and the workers are also treated fairly. Farming and livestock raising are a way of life for a multitude of people around the world, but when unfair trade practices exist, it’s harder for smaller farms or farmers in poor countries to make a livable wage from the sale of their goods—assuming they have the opportunity to even sell their goods at the market.
Large corporations that exist in wealthy countries have cornered the agricultural market, making it difficult for smaller or family run farms to sell their goods. This can keep these farmers or the countries they are from in poverty while the bigger companies in the richer countries continue to see profits. Fair trade was developed so that these small producers had equal opportunity to get their products to consumers. Crops and products that are most often impacted by fair trade include sugar, cocoa, tea, coffee, and bananas.
What It Takes to Be Classified Fair Trade
To be a Fair Trade Certified good, there are very specific and rigorous standards that have to be met, including economic, social, and environmental standards. Workers who are instrumental in developing these goods have to have safe work conditions, protect the environment, develop sustainable livelihoods, and ensure that additional funds are invested locally to uplift and empower the communities.
In most cases, Fair Trade Certified products have a “floor” price, which means that crops can’t be sold beneath a fixed price, no matter what the market conditions are. The purpose of this is to keep small farms and underrepresented communities safe from market fluctuations, which could ruin their profits. It also protects these farms and communities from being bought out by corporations or larger farms.
What Are the Benefits of Buying Fair Trade Goods?
Buying Fair Trade goods is beneficial to everyone. For consumers, it gives them the opportunity to help out communities and farmers in need. It also encourages and stresses the importance of social change, along with promoting an equitable and just global trading system. When a consumer buys a Fair Trade good, it improves the lives of the farmer and/or the community who produced it.
For companies who carry products produced under Fair Trade, having the label on their goods means that they are credible and want to have a positive impact on the world. Customers probably view them as trustworthy and will happily buy products from them, knowing the purchase is going to a greater good.
Producers who develop Fair Trade goods probably see the most benefit, and they include the following:
- Stable prices – allowing for the costs of sustainable production to be covered
- Market access – allowing producers to find buyers that they wouldn’t normally be able to interact with
- Partnerships – producers have the opportunity to make decisions about what will happen to them in the future
- Empowerment – both farmers and workers have the opportunity to develop knowledge, resources, and skills about their trade that will give them more control and power over their lives
Products that have been Fair Trade Certified will carry a seal. If you want to make a difference in the lives of people around the world, look for that symbol on a variety of products available from different sources.