Fair or alternative trade is a system of exchange based on solidarity and equality. Respect for producers, consumers, and resources are the foundations of it. Coffee was the very first fair trade product to appear on the Canadian market in 1998.
But while coffee, a widely-sold product, now employs 25 million farmers, things aren’t the same for everyone. That’s why many companies – first and foremost among them, Canadian businesses – seek to increase the development of fair trade coffee and make people aware of the issue of responsible consumption. Here’s a brief overview.
A question of social justice
Due to the overproduction of coffee in Brazil and Vietnam, the cost of coffee has collapsed, and with it, the wages of farm workers, to say nothing of the reduced quality. The only solution for saving local producers from poverty is fair trade. By establishing lasting commercial relationships, the incomes of the producers are ensured, the working conditions of the workers are respected, and the local environment is enhanced.
Only transparent employment agreements based on solidarity that reduce the number of intermediaries in the supply chain can guarantee decent incomes for producers from the most underprivileged nations.
Concerned about these values, Canadians are increasingly motivated in their buying decisions by such ethical considerations. In addition, indicators show a certain passion for fair trade products over the last few years.
The guarantor of local economic growth
Coffee is grown in southern countries and contributes to the development of a local economy. Suited for mountainous regions where sometimes only one crop is possible, it helps maintain rural activities. It should be noted that two-thirds of the world’s coffee production comes from small farms measuring less than five hectares!
An economy based on a different exchange model, prices are established as fairly as possible and in a stable way between the various economic partners. When there’s surplus income, therefore, it can be invested in the same sector or elsewhere, in housing or education.
Thanks to the certification label that appears on these products, fair trade coffee is visible to consumers who are concerned about these values. The transparency in the production chain, the distribution, and the buying behaviours act as a virtuous circle and boost a sector whose growth today is not insignificant and should be welcomed.
The importance of fair trade to the coffee industry no longer needs to be proven. Whether it’s to pay a fair price to the communities that produce it, establish a more direct and democratic commercial relationship, promote solidarity, or make us aware of the power of our consumption choices, all these are good reasons to convert to this type of trade. Besides the fact that this coffee tastes delicious, don’t forget that the success of a good coffee depends not only on the work of the roaster, but is inherent in that of the farmer and the importer. Better coffee and better conditions for the farmers – what more could you ask for?