Fair Trade is an alternative and ethical way of doing business with the developing world. Unlike conventional trade which seeks to obtain the lowest possible prices for imported products – no matter what this means for the quality of life of farmers and producers – Fair Trade seeks to ensure that farmers are able to live a life of dignity.
In conventional trade, middlemen take a disproportionate share of the price you pay at the supermarket. Importers, exporters, and brokers – many of who never even see the product they are trading – take their chunk and not much is left by the time it gets to the farmer. You might be paying $14 dollars for a premium pound of coffee, but the farmers who grew the beans may only see 50 cents of that. Many producers in developing countries do not have access to accurate price information and cannot complain about the low price they receive. Other times, the farmers do not have a truck to transport their beans; and local “coyotes” give them a poor price because the farmers have no choice but to take it or see their crops spoil.
Givent that 80% of the world’s poor are farmer’s there is huge potential inherent in more equitable terms of trade. Under Fair Trade a minimum price is set to cover the costs of production and to provide an income that ensures a decent standard of living. Unnecessary middlemen are cut out of the process, so these higher prices can be provided to the producers. Find out more about Fair Trade Vancouver.