Fair Trade Model Under Attack
Last Monday I attended a presentation by Mr. Santiago Paz of the Peruvian small farmers co-op CEPICAFE at the Equal Exchange warehouse in Portland. He focused on what is authentic fair trade. In the last few years the brand “Fair Trade” has been hi-jacked by corporate interests both in the producing & consuming nations. We all see so-called Fair Trade labels on mostly products from the Southern Hemisphere, i.e. coffee, chocolate, fruit and vegetables. But is it really fair?
Groups like Fair Trade USA are actually marketing ploys that allow plantations and large corporate interests to claim that their products enhance the well being of the people of the producing regions. This is the farthest from the truth—the profits flow directly to the wealthy, the small farmers get every little for their labor. Fair Trade USA is NOT a co-operative or social justice label.
Small farmers working together through co-operatives to improve their farming methods, distribution and marketing their products characterize authentic fair trade. The net result of this cooperation is that the profit of their labor flows into their communities to improve living conditions, education and civic life. It’s democracy in action.
Mr. Paz pointed out that the “Fair Trade” movement has lost control of the brand “fair trade” it cannot be reclaimed. The brand name is no longer controlled or owned by co-operative producers. He asserts that the fair trade movement needs to re-invite its brand and educate the consumer on what is authentic fair trade. Small farmer co-operatives from around the world are promoting a new label. www.SPP.coop. Check it out!
What is our role in this! Simply, educate, educate, & educate what authentic fair trade is and how to identify the real thing in our markets & stores. Politically, we need to demand that “fair trade” label means support for small farmers and push large corporations to abandon fair trade marketing ploys and support small farmers with authentic fair trade. Here’s a link for more detailed info: