Thursday, December 19, 2013
What Are Fair Trade Coffee Beans?
What Are Fair Trade Coffee Beans?
By Robert Fogarty
Chances are, that morning cup of java you have every morning has been brought to you by a struggling farmer in a developing nation. They have not been paid enough to feed their own families, and many live in conditions that North Americans cannot even imagine. Fair trade coffee beans are a social movement that attempts to help farmers in other countries create a sustainable business model.
This movement's main goal is to improve the financial health and sustainability of local farmers and growers in these developing nations. There are many reasons for the rising prices of green coffee beans, including climate change, economic turbulence and supply and demand issues. This has resulted in rising prices of your daily cup of coffee, which most people in North America have adjusted to; however, to a farmer, these price differences don't mean more profits. In fact, they can mean certain failure.
One significant way of battling the odds of failure is by buying certified fair trade from responsible retailers. Small producers and farmers are being encouraged to form co-ops and band together to create organizations that are democratically run. As a larger group, they are in a better position to bargain with foreign buyers and processing mills. They have much more power than they would as individual growers.
The fair trade certifications commit buyers to a certain price which is 10 cents per pound above the current commodity price. It also locks a buyer into purchasing regardless of market or price crashes.
These grower organizations must also adhere to a strict set of rules, including the absence of child labour, good working conditions, and ecologically responsible farming practices. This does not necessarily mean it must be organic, but many farmers do this anyway.
There are two 'watch dog' organizations that help set up the co-ops and certifications: Fair Trade USA in North America, and Fair Trade International, which is based in Germany. These organizations also help to partner consumers with producers, through awareness and marketing campaigns.
So why does all of this matter? To put it in simple terms, because it's the right thing to do. Think about owning a small piece of land in which you depend on for income all year-long. Now think about having to work the land, purchase the seeds, fertilizers, equipment, etc. Imagine the back-breaking work, 16 hour days (or more!) and then selling your crop for a fraction of the price that it's actually worth and having to tell your family you can't give them the food they were counting on.
That may sound harsh, but it is the reality for many small growers and farmers. If it were not for the co-ops and fair trade organizations, their farms would simply fail. What does that mean for you, the coffee drinker? It means you can feel good knowing you are supporting the growers who made it possible for you to wake up to a nice steaming hot cup of java. So the next time you go to your local grocery store, make sure you look for the fair trade coffee beans certification label on the package. If your store doesn't have any, speak to the store manager and request they purchase some to put on the shelves!
For more information on fair trade coffee, you may visit the following website: Fair trade coffee beans
Article Source: What Are Fair Trade Coffee Beans?